News Archive for 2007

22 Nov 07 - Heathrow expansion to take priority over Stansted

As a result of this story appearing in The Times, a letter from Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, was published a day later denying that Government policy had changed.

Ben Webster, transport correspondent of The Times, reports - Runway plan scrapped in favour of Heathrow growth

Letter from Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, published in The Times on 23 November 2007.

1 Nov 07 - Developer pulls out of goods yard site

The £100 million rejuvenation of Bishop's Stortford's railway goods yard site has been shunted into a siding.

Barratt Homes has pulled out of the scheme for the station land - and the town centre now faces a long wait for the last piece of the redevelopment jigsaw.

Network Rail confirmed this week that it was no longer working with Barratt but was still committed to the project, while the developer itself declined to comment.

Sandra Perry's full report in The Herts and Essex Observer - Developer pulls out of goods yard site

15 Jul 07 - The green belt is no place for homes

Tristram Hunt in The Observer comments on the government's latest building announcements.

The Observer - The green belt is no place for homes

10 Jul 07 - Manchester airport's Green Belt expansion plans rejected by inspector

Ian Herbert of The Independent reports on the latest victory in curb of airport growth.

The Independent - Grounded - Another victory in battle to curb airport growth

Also in The Independent of 10 July 2007:
Commentry from Jeff Gazzard - Grassroots rebellion could halt growth in flights
Leading Article - Local protests and a global climate emergency

28 Jun 07 - Noise from Stansted airport threatens schools' move

Aircraft noise from Stansted airport could jeopardise the controversial move of two Bishop's Stortford secondary schools to the proposed Green Belt site on the edge of town, it was claimed this week.

See this article in the Herts and Essex Observer: Noise blow to schools.

23 Jun 07 - HCC proposes £15m sale of land in Hadham Road to help fund schools' move

Herts County Council (HCC) has proposed selling land that it owns in Hadham road for housing development. This would raise £15m towards the cost of relocating the Herts & Essex High School and The Bishop's Stortford High School to one site at Whittington Way in the south of the town.

HCC also agreed to give the developers, Countryside Properties, the option to buy the existing school sites in Warwick Road and London Road. These two sites would be developed for housing.

The BSCF opposes the proposed new site at Whittington Way which is on Green Belt land. BSCF chairman, Richard Hannah, who attended the HCC cabinet meeting, expressed the BSCF's belief that the town's infrastructure would be unable to cope with the extra housing developments and the change of route for pupils. It was said at the cabinet meeting that Whittington Way was "within easy walking distance of the station and bus terminal", a comment that the BSCF regards as nonsense.

Sandra Perry's full article is in the print version of the Herts and Essex Observer for June 21st, 2007.

24 May 07 - BSCF warned councils about Jackson Square traffic chaos two years ago  Top 

Predictions of the current traffic gridlock surrounding the Jackson Square development were given to planners and developers two years ago by the Bishop's Stortford Civic Society (later the BSCF).

See the Civic Society's letters to the East Herts District Council and to Hertfordshire County Council (as well as the replies we received).

See this report in The Herts and Essex Observer - Council had gridlock warning two years ago.

17 May 07 - Airport inquiry timetable set  Top 

See this report in The Herts and Essex Observer - Airport inquiry timetable set .

10 May 07 - Six arrests as police swarm streets  Top 

Elizabeth Reeve of The Herts and Essex Observer reports: Six arrests as police swarm streets .

3 May 07 - Watchdog savages BAA over future forecasts  Top 

Sinead Holland of The Herts and Essex Observer reports: Watchdog savages BAA over future forecasts.

19 Apr 07 - Van Hage garden centre plans defeated  Top 

Following a three-day enquiry held six weeks ago, outline planning permission to build a garden centre on Green Belt land at Pig Lane has been rejected. Had the plans been approved, Van Hage were proposing to build a new garden centre on the site.

Planning Inspector, Sue Turner, announced that she had dismissed the appeal by The Fairfield Partnership against the original decision by East Herts District Council to refuse outline planning permission for the scheme. She said in her report that the proposed development would have a significant effect on the open character of this part of the Green Belt and would appear as a prominent and obtrusive feature that would destroy the natural, rural character of the area.

Richard Hannah, chairman of the BSCF, said: "This is a great victory for local democracy against big business, which was trying to thrust a garden centre onto the people of Bishop's Stortford even though there was no need for one. This decision has sent out a clear mesage that the sanctuary of the Green Belt must be protected and must not be sacrificed."    Letter outlining the BSCF's Objections

7 Apr 07 - Replacement for Millers Bridge given planning approval  Top 

East Herts District Council has given the go-ahead for work to start in October 2007 on a new bridge over the Stort to replace Millers Bridge (see Letters). A temporary crossing will be installed while the old bridge is dismantled. Construction of the new bridge is scheduled to last four months and will cost an estimated £1.5m. As well as being accessible for people in wheelchairs, the new bridge will also cater for cyclists and pedestrians. The new bridge is one stage in the £100m regeneration program of the former railway goods yard site.

12 Mar 07 - Greenbelt in peril  Top 

The Guardian's environment editor, John Vidal, reports on the threat to greenbelt land in Hertfordshire and elsewhere.

The Guardian - The dash for greenbelt land in England

30 Jan 07 - BAA's Proposals - A Press Release from Uttlesford District Council  Top 

Uttlesford District Council today reaffirmed its opposition to a second runway at Stansted, declaring it would have a hugely negative environmental impact.

It comes in response to the long-awaited announcement from BAA today of its preferred option for the planned expansion.

The authority will continue its absolute opposition to any new runway being built at Stansted. Nothing in BAA’s announcement should be taken as affecting this position, which is supported by all political groups on the council.

BAA’s plans would see Stansted double in size and eat up a further 486 hectares of countryside. It would see 73 homes and 18 listed buildings destroyed or moved. Even though the plans now see the runway moved closer to the existing one, the impact on local communities remains disastrous.

UDC, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils and East Herts District Council responded jointly to BAA’s G2 Options Consultation in March 2006 to ensure that any new runway proposal fully considered the impacts on their communities.

UDC believes that a second runway will have an unacceptable impact, both on the local community and the wider environment.

The expansion will place an unacceptable burden on roads and rail services. Land take from the countryside will cause irreversible harm to the continued protection of the countryside. The nation’s most valued landscapes and environmental resources, such as ancient woodland, important hedgerows, historic field patterns, archaeological sites and green lanes cannot be replaced. Many historic buildings will have to be destroyed, causing immense damage to the area’s heritage.

In addition, the growth of aviation facilitated by a second runway will continue to add to global warming, potentially destroying the global environment for future generations.

Council leader Mark Gayler said: "Today’s statement from BAA does absolutely nothing to make us re-think our position. We remain totally opposed to a second runway at Stansted. This development would be an environmental disaster, both locally and globally."

Councillor Alan Dean, chairman of UDC’s Airport Task Group, said: "This proposal is in response to a misguided set of government policies. It will bring only harm to a wide area. We will fight BAA’s plans until we win."

Cllr Jackie Cheetham, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, said: "Any second runway at Stansted will be an environmental disaster and will destroy the communities in the area."

Cllr Elizabeth Godwin, Leader of the Independent Group, said: "The countryside which will be destroyed cannot be replaced. Our communities do not want this and it is hard to believe that this is what the rest of the country wants."

In November 2006 Uttlesford District Council turned down a planning application from BAA to increase passenger numbers using the existing facilities at Stansted. This will be the subject of a separate public inquiry, due to begin this summer.

30 Jan 07 - BAA's Proposals - A Press Release from Sir Alan Haselhurst M.P.  Top 


"This benefits no-one in my constituency" was the immediate verdict of Saffron Walden M.P., the Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, on BAA's announcement of their plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport.

In the week in which a group of scientists has published the starkest warning yet about climate change BAA chooses this moment to unveil a blockbusting plan to triple the throughput at Stansted. When you set these proposals alongside their Eco newsletter of Autumn 2006 ("Working Together for a Sustainable Airport Environment") you quickly see how they speak with a forked tongue.

The arrogance of BAA is breathtaking. They publish these latest plans before they have obtained planning permission for full use of the existing runway. As a child I was taught to digest the first course before reaching for the next! But it casts interesting light on their corporate attitude towards the forthcoming public enquiry into the first runway proposal. Perhaps they are confident that they have the Secretary of State in their pocket and that the public enquiry will be no more than a charade. What an insult to the people of Uttlesford!

The siting of the proposed second runway is the result of a supposed consultation. BAA would have received precious little support from local people for any option. It is no surprise to me therefore that BAA's final choice has such a close resemblance to its original preferred placement. Any claimed improvements (and I welcome them for what they are) cannot mask the fact that any second runway amounts to an environmental catastrophe which will alter forever the rural character of a large swathe of Essex and Hertfordshire.

If this Government, or more likely its successor, is prepared to take global warming seriously, measure will be introduced to make aviation cover its environmental costs. This is likely to put a brake on the growth in passenger numbers making the viability of a huge airport at Stansted extremely dubious.

There are not employment benefits. BAA cannot fill existing jobs from within the constituency and its closest hinterland. So an enlarged airport will simply be a magnet to people from further afield and cause unacceptable pressure on local infrastructure.

At last BAA seems to be waking up to the need for improved surface access arrangements. What they still cannot understand is that they are needed now, not tomorrow nor at some unspecified date in the future. There is not the slightest hint from the Government that it will fund what is patently needed.

In short this is a deeply depressing announcement destined to rob Uttlesford over time of its reputation as one of the most desirable parts of England in which to live.

21 Jan 07 - Fast food for thought  Top 

Writing in the Sunday Observer, Jason Cowley reports on a modern sickness very close to home. This article has generated a variety of interesting responses which are printed below the article itself.

The Observer - This popcorn and burger society is making me sick

18 Jan 07 - New homes in Hertfordshire could top 100,000  Top 

The Hertfordshire branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has claimed that the number of new homes to be built in Hertfordshire may exceed the government's estimate of 83,200 and could even go above 100,000.

See the Herts Campaign to Protect Rural England for more detail.