News Stories in 2008

12 Dec 08 - Stansted runway protest 'a sign of things to come'

This story by Sinead Holland appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 12 December 2008

The protest by Plane Stupid which shut Stansted Airport this week is just a taste of more trouble to come. The warning comes from John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, the group campaigning against the expansion of Heathrow Airport, which has already been the scene of several high-profile disturbances.

Plane Stupid said it chose to close Stansted on Monday after the Government approved expansion at the airport from 25m to 35m passengers a year. At around 3am, protesters broke through a secure perimeter fence and locked themselves to fencing, closing the runway for five hours.

In all, 56 people were arrested. Of these, 49 men and women, aged 17 to 42 and from across the UK, have been bailed to appear before Harlow magistrates at various dates in December and the new year on charges of aggravated trespass.

The remaining seven, who were arrested on suspicion of public order offences, have been released on police bail to return to police stations throughout Essex at a later date. Mr Stewart said: “The occupation of Stansted is a clear sign of things to come if the Government doesn’t back down over its proposals to expand airports. There is a great deal of anger at the impact these plans will have on the global climate and on local people’s quality of life.”

While Stop Stansted Expansion has vowed to continue its protest without breaking the law, campaign director Carol Barbone said: “No-one can condemn this action without also condemning the recklessness of the Government’s policy on airport expansion and the major contribution which the resulting emissions would make to global warming.

“BAA’s full frontal attack on the community, with its plans to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow today, with a 7km2 land grab for a second runway destroying historic homes and villages, must also be condemned.” Ms Barbone also highlighted concerns about the future and the operator’s competence: “BAA’s current approach to security has clearly set alarm bells ringing. If its 2,000-acre site were to be increased by almost half as much again with a second runway, there would be even more reason for the community and travelling public to fear an attack of a far more sinister nature than we saw on Monday.”

Ryanair, whose schedule was worst hit by the protest, cancelling 52 flights, also attacked airport bosses. Spokesman Stephen McNamara said: “The security at Stansted has once again failed. We need to know what measures BAA is putting in place to prevent these repeated security failures. BAA Stansted is not fit for purpose. We need to break up the BAA monopoly as soon as possible to improve customer services and end these BAA cock-ups.”

BAA said: “We are happy to engage in serious debates on airport expansion and we respect people’s right to protest within the bounds of the law. However, any unlawful or irresponsible behaviour aimed at disrupting the smooth operation of the airport is unacceptable. People should engage in the relevant independent planning inquiries in an open, honest and safe way.” However, mum Belinda Hagues criticised Plane Stupid after her daughter Amy and other pupils at a Broxbourne school missed out on a trip to Germany because of the protest. The Royston resident said: “I wonder if these people have children who are lucky enough to be able to broaden their education on such trips or whether they stay at home for fear of killing the planet. I doubt it!”

4 Dec 08 - Schools withdraw single-site plan  Top 

School governors have withdrawn their scheme to move two Bishop's Stortford schools to a Green Belt site on the edge of town.

This report by Sandra Perry in The Herts and Essex Observer - High schools withdraw single-site plan

27 Nov 08 - Alcohol ban approved for central Bishop's Stortford  Map   Top 

This story by Sinead Holland appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 27 November 2008

An order banning boozers from the streets of central Bishop's Stortford came a step closer this week. On Tuesday, East Herts District Council's executive voted to go ahead with a designated public places order (DPPO) in a bid to cut alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour. The prohibition legislation would extend over an area including Apton Road, Newtown Road, Jervis Road, Bartholomew Road, Nursery Road, all of Potter Street and South Street, South Road up to Mulberry Court, Southmill Road, part of London Road to Hockerill, across Sworders Field and all of Castle Gardens.

It would also extend into Parsonage Lane, plus North Street and Northgate End. Cemetery Road and the Havers Lane area have also been added. Cllr Mione Goldspink, a Liberal Democrat who represents the town's Central ward, said: "I welcome the order warmly and especially the inclusion of Havers Lane, which has had many problems."

Her reaction echoed the findings of an extensive crime analysis and statutory consultation in the summer to identify the scale of the problem. It showed that 62 per cent — or 72 offences — of violent crime recorded between April 1 and September 30 were alcohol-related and, during the same period, seven per cent of criminal damage was also booze-fuelled. In all, 95 per cent of those consulted about the order supported it and 84 per cent testified they had witnessed anti-social behaviour in the proposed DPPO area.

Of the 242 ballot forms completed, 11.3 per cent of respondents said they had witnessed anti-social behaviour outside a licensed area or business, 51.3 per cent said they had seen the same outside their homes and 59.2 per cent had seen loutishness in their neighbourhood.

The DPPO would give police the power to order individuals to hand over any alcohol officers believed would be consumed in the prohibited area. Anyone who fails to comply could be hit with a £40 fixed penalty or face a £500 fine on conviction.

Cllr Malcolm Alexander, EHDC's executive member for community safety and protection, said: "Alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour is a concern for people walking through the town centre and this order will make it easier to clamp down on nuisance drinking. "It won't prevent responsible drinking, such as people enjoying a picnic with a glass of wine or a beer. The ban is an excellent example of how our continued close working partnership with the police is helping to make our communities safer."

20 Nov 08 - New threat to last piece of Bishop's Stortford's countryside  Top 

This story appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 20 November 2008

A new bid to cover Bishop's Stortford's last remaining countryside in concrete is under consideration this week.

Developers with designs on protected land to the north off the town, around Hadham Road, have joined the feeding frenzy which has seen plans made for more than 70,000 new properties in the Observer area.

The Bishop's Stortford North Consortium wants to build 2,700 homes on land including the town's precious Areas of Special Restraint (ASRs). The site the firms have studied with a view to creating a "sustainable extension with a distinctive character" includes Hoggates Wood and an area around Ash Grove, which are wildlife sites, badger setts close to Foxdells Farm, ponds along Dane O'Coys Road and bat foraging areas.

The consortium said in its submission to the East of England Regional Assembly that much of the study area was "sparsely vegetated" and not all was worthy of retention -- but a despondent Michael Hurford, president of the town's civic society [Civic Federation], made the dire implications clear. He warned: "It's the last piece of the town periphery that has been untouched. "It's what makes Bishop's Stortford Bishop's Stortford – it's an essential part of protecting the countryside."

He said building there could be "the straw that breaks the camel's back" by tipping the town's population over the 40,000 limit he believed crucial to keeping its unique character.

The renewed building bid comes despite a hard-won victory from EERA which meant East Herts District Council alone could determine the fate of the ASRs and they are safe until at least 2011. The areas, within the northern boundary of the Bishop's Stortford bypass, were originally earmarked for long-term development in the late 1980s and since then there has been fierce opposition to any building plans.

Mark Prisk, the town's MP, pledged that a Conservative government would scrap the diktats from Westminster and allow local councils to plan new construction. He said it was for local people, not politicians "detached from reality", to determine the fate of the ASRs. "Whether in 20 or 30 years they should be or could be developed is a matter for a democratically elected council," he said.

The East of England Regional Assembly has put East Herts and other district councils on notice that Herts could have to accommodate 40,000 extra dwellings, with 65,000 across the border in Essex by 2031 – in addition to the 83,000 and 127,000 respectively required by 2021. As a result, 16 bids to build more than 70,000 homes have been tabled for the Observer area alone.

In addition to the Bishop's Stortford North Consortium scheme, another plan is piling on pressure from the south. Town estate agent Sworders has submitted plans for 2,000 properties at a site dubbed Sawbridgeworth East, even though it is located just across the Essex border in Epping Forest's parish of Sheering.

Further south still, the spectre of tens of thousands of homes at Harlow North – with building on East Herts land between Eastwick, High Wych and Hunsdon – is also haunting campaigners. As well as a scheme for 16,000 homes from RPS, Savills and Hives Planning have submitted schemes for 4,000 and 8,000 dwellings respectively, while Scott Wilson has mooted 2,000.

The secretary of Stop Harlow North Nigel Clark, who is also an East Herts district councillor, said: "A number of landowners who were already known to SHN have jumped on the bandwagon to try to make massive profit." All the bids have been made despite a warning from Bishop's Stortford estate agent Savills that the Government's housing plans are "in tatters" as development land values have crashed by a third in six months and "are falling at their fastest rate since [the company's] records began in 1979 with turnover reaching a virtual standstill and sentiment continuing to drive prices lower".

14 Nov 08 - Stop Stansted Expansion to appeal over decision  Top 

Stop Stansted Expansion has lodged an appeal with the High Court challenging last month's decision by the Government to sanction an additional 10 million passengers a year on Stansted's existing runway.

This report by Sandra Perry in The Herts and Essex Observer - SSE to appeal over Stansted decision

30 Oct 08 - Shock as Essex County Council withdraws objections to Stortford schools move plans  Top 

This story appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 30 October 2008

Campaigners fighting to prevent Bishop's Stortford's two single-sex schools moving to a new site were stunned to hear that Essex County Council had withdrawn its objections.

The news was relayed at a meeting involving the town's civic federation and other residents' associations on Tuesday night.

The meeting was held to explain the admissions policies and catchment areas for The Bishop's Stortford High and Herts & Essex High to parents concerned their children still might not get places in the proposed expanded secondaries. Federation chairman Richard Hannah told the 30 people at Thorley Park Community Centre of objectors' delight that Essex had written to planning authority East Herts District Council saying there weren't "very special circumstances" to build in the Green Belt off Whittington Way.

ECC suggested instead the current admission policies for both schools could be changed to give higher priority to those living in Stortford and its environs. Otherwise it was likely a significant proportion of the additional places would be allocated to those living in Essex. Of the 1,000 Essex children who attend Stortford secondaries, over half go to the single sex schools, states the letter.

Nor had any assessment been undertaken of the impact of Essex secondary schools. Their development could be affected if more were drawn into Stortford, it continued.

But Stortford county councillor and Herts & Essex governor Cllr Bernard Engel informed the meeting that Essex had withdrawn its objection.

He later told the Observer ECC had misunderstood the application. It had believed the two schools were each going to expand immediately to eight forms of entry, not just by one form of entry (30 pupils) each by September 2011 as proposed.

A spokesman for Essex confirmed yesterday (Wed) it no longer had any objection. It was satisfied any future enlargement would be as required to meet anticipated additional demand arising from new housing developments in Stortford.

● East Herts' special development control committee to consider the governors' application will be at 6pm on Tuesday 9 December in the Charis Centre, Water Lane, Bishop's Stortford.

30 Oct 08 - Hockerill residents' association may be revived to tackle hot topics  Top 

This story appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 30 October 2008

Hockerill residents' association may be revived to tackle hot topics

An attempt to breathe new life into the ghost of Hockerill Residents' Association will be made at All Saints Church vestry tomorrow (Friday, 31 October).

Residents from across the Bishop's Stortford ward have been urged to attend from 7.30pm until 9pm. Town and East Herts district councillor Colin Woodward explained: "I had the idea ages ago to support a relaunch of HRA (as it is in my All Saints Ward) which had long been moribund, having once been a very active residents' association." He said the association had been moth-balled for five years, but was optimistic about the future. He added that there were important local issues for a revived organisation to address, such as air quality at the busy crossroads and other traffic concerns; development of Herts and Essex High School site and the ongoing footpath row between local residents and Hockerill Anglo-European College.

Anyone interested in attending the meeting should contact Ralph and Audrey Gilbert on (01279) 656200 or

22 Oct 08 - Parents' meeting over schools move  Top 

An open meeting is being held in Bishop's Stortford on Tuesday 28th October 2008, from 7.30 pm at the Thorley Community Centre to thrash out parents' concerns over future admissions policy if the town's two single-sex schools relocate.

This report by Sandra Perry in The Herts and Essex Observer - Parents' meeting over schools move

9 Oct 08 - Stansted expansion is a pyrrhic victory for aviation: analysis  Top 

The aviation industry may be in meltdown with planes being grounded by the dozen, but this grim reality seems to have escaped the Government.

This analysis by David Milward in The Daily Telegraph - Stansted expansion is a pyrrhic victory for aviation

9 Oct 08 - Stansted expansion goes ahead  Top 

Government approves extra 23,000 flights a year for 10 million more passengers.

This report by Jenny Percival in The Guardian - Stansted expansion goes ahead

9 Oct 08 - Stansted decision 'a body blow'  Top 

The Government's green light for growth at Stansted Airport has been described as a body blow for the community.

This report by Sinead Holland in The Herts and Essex Observer - Stansted decision 'a body blow'

3 Oct 08 - Call to Curb Aircraft Noise from MEP  Top 

A new call to curb aircraft noise at Stansted was made today (Friday, October 3) by MEP Richard Howitt.

This report by Sinead Holland in The Herts and Essex Observer - Call to Curb Aircraft Noise

22 Sep 08 - East Herts District Council postpones schools public meeting (originally set for Thursday 16 October)  Top 

The council needs more time to study the reactions to the proposals and hopes to reschedule the meeting before Christmas.

This report by Sandra Perry in The Herts and Essex Observer - Public meeting postponed

22 Sep 08 - Bishop's Stortford 2020 Questionnaire  Top 

Casting a vision for the future of the town. The Bishop's Stortford Questionnaire is a joint venture between Bishop's Stortford Town Council and East Herts District Council.

The councils' aim is to gather the opinions of the residents of Bishop's Stortford on a wide range of issues to enable them to cast a vision for the future of the Town.

The questionnaire ran until 7th November 2008.

18 Sep 08 - Civic body details opposition to plan  Top 

This story, by Sandra Perry, appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 18 September 2008

Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation has compiled a 21-page document detailing its objections to the proposed schools move.

It has been sent to East Herts District Council in time for councillors to discuss whether or not to grant planning permission at a special meeting at the Charis Centre in Water Lane, Stortford, on October 16 at 6pm.

The 50 acres (20ha) off Whittington Way is the most open Green Belt site between the bypass and the town, it says, and the schools plan falls within the definition of "inappropriate development".

"The impact of these proposals on the Green Belt would be considerable and irreversible. They would involve the construction of buildings with approximately 31,500 sq m of floor space, 500 parking spaces ... sports pitches will be floodlit and the whole site will be surrounded by a 2m high security fence.

"A campus with potentially 3,000 students will generate a huge number of traffic movements. This particular site is quite narrow and the site as a whole is bordered on three sides by residential development."

The document sets out how the inspector at the public inquiry into the East Herts Local Plan for the period up to 2011 refused to remove protected status from the site, saying the schools scheme should be considered through the planning process. Nor does the Local Plan adopted last year make provision for alternative use for the school sites in London Road and Warwick Road and the playing fields in Beldams Lane.

The federation, which represents 6,000 households, stresses that the two schools are under no compulsion to expand or move, or to expand to maintain academic standards.

The argument that they have to expand to meet demand for single-sex places "is at best unproven and at worst nonsense". An alternative of a new mixed-sex school on the county councilowned Hadham Road site would achieve a better balance.

The document states community use of the schools' site would be less accessible because they would be further out of town and criticises the financially independent schools for expecting the community to pay for their "free rebuild" through unwanted housing.

The BSCF points out that another 775 homes in Warwick Road, London Road and Beldams Lane would add 2,000 people and generate more traffic in an already congested Stortford.

18 Sep 08 - Town councillors say no to schools' move to Thorley  Top 

This story, by Sandra Perry, appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 18 September 2008

Bishop's Stortford town councillors have said no to the town's two single-sex secondary schools moving to a shared Green Belt site at Whittington Way.

At Monday's meeting of the full council, members ratified — without any discussion — a recommendation made at a lengthy special meeting of its planning and development committee last Wednesday, which unanimously rejected the proposals.

Bishop's Stortford High and Herts & Essex High want to relocate from their London Road and Warwick Road sites to expand by one form of entry (1FE, 30 places) each to 6FE once the new schools are ready, in September 2011, and to 8FE by 2021.

The governors are also seeking planning permission to build homes on the vacated sites: up to 125 in Warwick Road, up to 220 in London Road and up to 180 on Herts & Essex's playing fields in Beldams Lane.

In addition, Herts County Council is applying to build on a site reserved for secondary schooling it owns in Hadham Road. It proposes to build up to 165 dwellings if it allows Bishop's Stortford Rugby Football Club to continue to use part of its land, or 250 if it does not.

On Tuesday, Rodney Stock, spokesman for both sets of governors, said that East Herts needed to look to the long term: "We fully appreciate our proposals are farreaching, but we're confident that the opportunities presented by building two new schools fit for the education of our young people for the 21st century will prove to be of lasting value for the town."

Last Wednesday, BS High head Andrew Goulding addressed the town council committee, which met in front of an audience of about 50 people at East Herts District Council's offices in The Causeway. After setting out the educational justification, he answered questions.

Five years ago, the county council, as local education authority, embarked on a plan to meet rising demand. St Mary's Catholic School was expanded by 1FE and Birchwood High by 3FE to cater for mixed places. The next step was to expand the single-sex schools. Mr Goulding said an extra 1FE was required for every 850-1,000 new homes.

If East Herts District Council approves the applications, the Government will get the final say.

21 Aug 08 - Stansted expansion in doubt after competition report  Top 

Expansion of Stansted was thrown into doubt after the Competition Commission said that owner, BAA, may have to sell three of its seven airports - including the Essex hub.

This report in The Herts and Essex Observer - Stansted expansion in doubt

August 08 - Hertfordshire Constabulary's proposal to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder in Bishop's Stortford  Top 

Extract from an open letter to Bishop's Stortford residents

The "Crime and Disorder Partnership" is proposing to introduce a Designated Public Place Order over a wide area of Bishop's Stortford.  Map of Proposed Area 

If successful, this will ban the drinking of alcohol in open public places such as streets and alleyways that are not licensed. It will give the police the power to seize any alcohol that is being drunk int he area.

The Hertfordshire Police welcomes all residents' views. A questionnaire should have been delivered to all residents, but more are available at Bishop's Stortford police station.

Completed questionaires should can be returned to any of the following ballot boxes by Monday, 15 September 2008:

24 Jul 08 - Developers appeal against Rye Street flats rejection  Top 

The "Against Rye Street Development" (ARSD) campaign urges all interested residents to appeal against the proposed planning application to demolish 100 Rye Street and build a block of flats.

ARSD contact details:
Geoff Sida 01279 651653 (
Justin Bliss 01279 301604 for any help or information.

For more information, see this PDF document Against Rye Street Development Information.

The BSCF has objected to these plans. See Letter to East Herts District Council.

This story, by Eleanor Scotchbrook, appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer in February 2008: Residents unite over 'eyesore' flats.

24 Jul 08 - Second runway (G2) to go to public inquiry  Top 

The Government has announced that the so-called "Generation 2 (G2)" second runway planning application for Stansted Airport will be the subject of a public enquiry in early 2009.

Sinead Holland reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Second runway plan 'called in'

24 Jul 08 - Protests spark flight path rethink  Top 

The National Air Traffic Service (NATS) has published the first feedback to its four-month public consultation on changes to the skies above the south east - including take-off and landing routes from Stansted Airport.

Sinead Holland reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - NATS flight path rethink

10 Jul 08 - Future of Stansted up in the air  Top 

The future of Stansted Airport remains up in the air - despite fevered media speculation that key expansion decisions would be taken by the Government this week.

Sinead Holland reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Future of Stansted up in the air

10 Jul 08 - End of the runway  Top 

This leading article - End of the runway - published in The Guardian considers the potential expansion of Stansted and Heathrow airports.

26 Jun 08 - Council Leader speaks out as flight path protest hits London  Top 

This story, by Sinead Holland, appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 26 June 2008

Peer and leader of Essex County Council Lord Hanningfield spoke out against a second runway at Stansted on the day protesters marched on London to demonstrate against flight path changes.

The campaigners, co-ordinated by AirportWatch, rallied at South Bank to mark marking the end of four months' consultation last Thursday (June 19) to change take-off and departure routes in the skies over East Herts and Uttlesford.

Many residents are worried about the proposals and their concerns were echoed by the county council when it submitted its own response to the plans.

However, Lord Hanningfield, who is also a prominent member of the CO2 alliance of authorities, united against Stansted expansion, warned: "These proposals don't include the near tripling of air traffic which Essex is going to be expected to receive beyond 2016 when the government and BAA are proposing a second runway is built at Stansted Airport.

"Essex County Council and the CO2 group are totally opposed to this second runway and I hope that today's submissions to the NATS consultation and demonstration in London will not disguise the real agenda of imposing lasting and damaging consequences on the people of Essex and the East of England through the environmentally unsustainable expansion of Stansted Airport."

The NATS consultation relates to changing the way aircraft fly over parts of London, southern and eastern England, called the Terminal Control North area. The air space is some of the most congested in the world and Essex has complained to NATS that the information it provided did not "adequately demonstrate" the impact of the proposals.

The authority supported the introduction of continuous descent landings from the south west to Stansted and the relocation of the stacking "hold" at Sudbury currently used by aircraft bound for Uttlesford.

However, they objected to changes proposed for a Stansted departure route which would take planes over Saffron Walden. No changes will be implemented before March 2009.

28 Jun 08 - Stansted runway is a top priority  Top 

New BAA boss says second runway will bring significant benefits to the region.

Sinead Holland reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Stansted second runway is a top priority

26 Jun 08 - 10 weeks to have say on schools move  Top 

Bishop's Stortford residents will have up to 10 weeks to have their say over the proposed Bishop's Stortford schools' move to Green Belt.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - 10 weeks to have say on schools move

5 Jun 08 - Mark Prisk MP: "Public needs extra time to debate schools move"  Top 

This story, by Sandra Perry, appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 5 June 2008

Bishop's Stortford MP Mark Prisk is urging East Herts District Council to give residents more time to do their homework on the scheme to relocate the town's two single-sex schools.

Governors of Herts and Essex High and Bishop's Stortford High are expected imminently to lodge a planning application to move their schools to a shared Green Belt site off Whittington Way.

Mr Prisk told the Observer this week that the project involved such a range of complex issues that the usual three-week consultation period should be twice as long.

"The proposal for the relocation of the two schools in Bishop's Stortford will have important consequences for the whole town," he said. It touched on issues of housing and development policies, transportation, environmental impact and educational need. Equally, the proposal affected not just one site but potentially four locations.

On Tuesday he wrote to EHDC saying: "Given this, I believe it would be wholly inappropriate for the consultation to be the standard 21 days.

"Instead I would strongly urge the authority to significantly extend this period, preferably to double it to 42 days. Such an extension would allow all interested parties to have the time to consider the application and for all sides in the debate to put their case."

Mr Prisk, who has been criticised since he told the Observer that he supported the move in principle, added: "This is an important long-term issue for the whole town. We have a difficult decision to consider, balancing the need for more school places with understandable concerns about the impact on traffic and the local environment. It's vital that everyone has the chance to consider such a planning application and to then have their say."

A spokesman for EHDC said: "It's unlikely we would extend the period for consultation. Although we recognise the interest in the proposals, we have to treat all applications in the same way."

28 May 08 - Stansted - deadline for responses extended  Top 

The deadline for responding with formal objections to BAA's plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport has been extended by Uttlesford District Council for a further three months. The new deadline is Friday 26 September 2008.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - New second runway deadline

28 May 08 - We can stop schools' move  Top 

This story, by Sandra Perry, appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer of 28 May 2008

We can stop schools move

Organisers of a public meeting hope to get 10,000 townsfolk to sign petitions opposing the move of two Bishop's Stortford secondary schools  Map - School Sites  to Green Belt land  Map - Green Belt .

They also issued an appeal to residents to write to MP Mark Prisk, who was heavily criticised by some in the audience for supporting the relocation of the Bishop's Stortford and Herts & Essex high schools to a site in Whittington Way.

The town's Liberal Democrat politicians arranged Saturday's meeting at Rhodes Arts Complex and party chairman Mike Wood was delighted with the turnout of nearly 300 people.

Speakers were Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation president Michael Hurford, Twyford and Old Thorley Residents' Association vice-chairman Carol Hayward-Peel, former councillor Les Pinnell and Thorley parish councillor Janet Rolph.

Two petitions are being distributed: one to local education authority Herts County Council urging it to build a new secondary school on the Hadham Road site it has had earmarked for education use for 30 years, and the second to planning authority East Herts District Council calling on it not to give planning permission for the new schools or for the estimated 935 homes that could be built on their current sites.

Signatures are needed by the end of July in readiness for the planning application, which has yet to be submitted but which is likely to be discussed by EHDC's development control committee in September.

Mr Hurford said the ripple effects of "rejigging the education system" would be felt throughout the town.

He spoke about how the two new schools would put 3,000 pupils and staff in one place, about the sites in Warwick Road, London Road, Beldams Lane and Hadham Road freed up for development, and the traffic implications.

He added that educational research showed large schools performed worse in terms of academic and social disorder, and claimed aircraft noise would breach building regulation levels. It was "stupendous madness" to build a school under a flight path, he said.

To cries of outrage, Mr Hurford stated that Herts County Council had provided £400,000 to developers working on the schools plans, which they could keep even if it did not go ahead.

The Hadham Road site was 8.3ha and a new six-form entry secondary school needed 5.61ha, he said, and the "woodland" which HCC said reduced the area was only "decayed orchard".

Mr Hurford summed up: "It's a selfish proposal by the schools, and what's sad is the two schools have an extremely good scholastic record and I fear this proposal will wreck that."

In an emotional speech, Mrs Hayward-Peel, a teacher, asked where the surveys and analysis were to substantiate what the schools claimed. Developers were pushing it forward and the MP and governors had not done their homework, she said.

She challenged people not to leave it too late to stop what would be a disaster for Stortford. Her voice breaking, she added: "Mr Prisk, you said in the Observer that doing nothing is not an option. I say doing nothing to stop this is not an option".

The Herts & Essex Observer also published a selection of comments from the audience during Saturday's meeting  Top 

21 May 08 - Government advised to rethink aviation policy  Top 

The government has been advised by the Sustainable Development Commission to completely rethink its aviation policy.

This story has been widely reported in the national press.

Roger Harrabin reports for the BBC - Aviation impacts 'hotly disputed'
Dan Milmo and John Vidal report in The Guardian - Put UK expansion on hold, demands green group
Cahal Milmo reports in The Independent - Evidence supporting airport expansion is flawed, says government adviser

8 May 08 - Lib Dem petition against schools' move  Top 

Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats are putting their political muscle behind a campaign to stop the town's two single-sex schools moving to Whittington Way.

The Lib Dems are organising a public protest meeting to be held at 2.30pm on Saturday, May 24 at the Rhodes Arts Complex.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Lib Dem petition against schools' move

8 May 08 - NATS extends consultation period until June 19, 2008  Top 

Residents living under the shadow of Stansted Airport flight paths have four weeks longer to say what they think about possible changes to routes.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - NATS extends consultation period until June 19

1 May 08 - Head teacher's school move fears  Top 

Peter Janke, head of Leventhorpe school in Sawbridgeworth, fears Bishop's Stortford High and Herts and Essex High will not be able to keep their separate identities on a shared campus of 3,300 pupils - and questions whether admission priority would be given to Stortford youngsters.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Head teacher's school move fears

1 May 08 - Stansted panel grounds flight path changes  Top 

Flight path planners were told on April 30 2008 to ground their recommendation for new routes over Bishop's Stortford.

Sinead Holland Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Stansted panel grounds flight path changes

27 Apr 08 - Horse racing faces battle in the sky  Top 

Top breeders say that plans to 'stack' more than 30 planes an hour over Newmarket will destroy Britain's multi-million-pound racing industry.

Caroline Davies reports in The Observer - Horse racing faces battle in the sky

17 Apr 08 - Residents unite to fight school fields sell-off  Top 

Residents are banding together to fight plans to build up to 200 homes on Herts and Essex High School's playing fields if they are sold off.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Residents fight school fields sell-off

10 Apr 08 - Prisk backs Green Belt schools  Top 

Local MP, Mark Prisk, backs relocation of schools on Green Belt land despite noise concerns.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Prisk backs Green Belt schools

28 Mar 08 - The Times features Bishop's Stortford in its Bricks and Mortar supplement  Top 

This article in The Times touches upon two of the BSCF's principal concerns, new housing development and Stansted Airport flightpaths.

Fred Redwood reports in the Times, Bricks and Mortar supplement - New homes and flightpaths may change the fortunes of Bishop's Stortford

13 Mar 08 - BAA announces second runway plans for Stansted Airport  Top 

BAA's controversial plans to build a second runway at Stansted Airport have been unveiled.

The BSCF remains resolutely opposed to further development of Stansted Airport.

As reported in The Herts and Essex Observer - Stansted Second Runway Plan Launched

7 Mar 08 - Yet more car park chaos  Top 

Another chaotic Saturday at the Jackson Centre car park at last prompts a rethink from East Herts District Council.

The BSCF has previously pointed out the elementary design flaw in the entry and exit arrangements for this car park.
See Letters: here and here.

Sandra Perry reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Rethink after more car park chaos

28 Feb 08 - Delay over decision on full use of runway at Stansted Airport  Top 

The verdict on a planning appeal over full use of Stansted Airport's existing runway has been hit by a new delay.

Sinead Holland reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Delay over runway decision

21 Feb 08 - Flight path shake up  Top 

The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) releases proposals for changing flight paths for Stansted Airport.

Sinead Holland reports in The Herts and Essex Observer - Flight path shake up