The government, in the person of transport secretary Geoff Hoon, has granted written permission for Stansted Airport to increase the number of flights by 24,000 a year.
For more details on this, see the Stop Stansted Expansion website.
For the full Inspector's report, see the Department for Transport website: Planning Inspector's report on the Stansted G1 appeal.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears have signalled a further delay in deciding BAA's 2006 planning application for the removal of the 25 million annual passenger limit at Stansted Airport.
For more details on this, see Stop Stansted Expansion website: Inquiry delay.
Doc No. BSCF/1/a
Case Ref. 2032278
Proof of Evidence on Behalf of Bishop’s Storford Civic Federation by John Rhodes30 April 2007
1. My name is John Andrew Rhodes. I am vice chairman of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation. Previously, I was its Chairman and chairman of the Civic Society. The Civic Federation joins the town’s active residents’ and community associations and the Civic Society into a partnership, representing over 6000 households in the town. The Federation’s committee has authorised me to speak on its behalf with Michael Hurford.
2. I am giving evidence separately on rail issues on behalf of SSE.Application not supported by the evidence
3. BAA has a history of deliberately failing to disclose the full implications of its planning applications by firstly exaggerating the need for facilities and then describing each incremental change as a minor variation to the permission already granted.
4. Other material gaps in BAA’s evidence are:
5. Bishop’s Stortford with a population of around 35,500 is the largest community near the airport to be affected by its activities. I shall deal with the impacts on the road network, rail services and noise, and Michael Hurford will give evidence on housing and the community.Roads and Parking
6. Bishop's Stortford’s road network is heavily congested, with the mediaeval street pattern in the town centre, and the approach roads to the town centre having very limited scope for traffic improvements. The airport is a significant generator of additional business for the town but with that comes extra traffic. Traffic generators include
7. Although a transport strategy has been adopted for the town, any improvements it achieves in managing congestion are likely to be temporary. Growth in airport passenger numbers will be likely to nullify the benefits of the strategy more quickly as local traffic from these sources grows.
8. In addition Bishop's Stortford suffers from a problem of off-site parking by airport users. Residents’ parking schemes had to be introduced in the streets nearest the airport long before they were found necessary in other parts of the town. It took 2 years of enforcement and court action by EHDC to terminate an off-site airport park and ride scheme being operated from land adjacent to the football club. Fly parking still plagues those streets which do not yet have parking restrictions.
9. Residents’ parking schemes are now being introduced in other parts of the town, partly to deal with this problem. They are a cost to the community, either to residents directly affected or more widely to council tax payers. BAA’s business rates make no contribution to these costs because they are located across the local authority boundary.Rail Services
10. The rail timetable introduced in December 2005 has led to a slightly more frequent service for Bishop's Stortford commuters. Bishop's Stortford is a major railhead for commuters not just from the town but also the surrounding area. So the extra capacity is welcome while it lasts. Our concern relating to the expansion of the airport is that it will not last. BAA expects the extra rail demand from the airport to be met by running longer trains. But it expects DfT or the train operator to pay for the additional trains [Ibid para 5.148]. In the early 1990’s the airport express services called at Bishop's Stortford in the peaks but these stops were withdrawn when the airport became more popular. Given BAA’s unwillingness to pay even for the extra capacity its activities would generate, a more likely outcome is that history would repeat itself. If the Bishop's Stortford stops of the Stansted Express were withdrawn we would have a less frequent service than we enjoyed before 2005.
11. More generally it is clear from volume 11 of BAA’s environmental assessment that the pattern of services to the airport prevents peak demand to other destinations from being adequately met. Without infrastructure enhancements, the only way of restoring balance would be to reduce service frequencies to the airport during the commuter peaks.Noise
12. The most obvious adverse environmental impact from the airport on Bishop's Stortford is noise, particularly in the southern quadrant of the town when aircraft are taking off to the south west – the most frequently used take off path. The use of leq noise contours gives a very misleading impression of the real impact, because they average movements over a 16 hour day and further average the results to allow for the occasions when flights take off and land in the opposite direction. While the result might be a reasonable reflection of noise disturbance from a motorway, aircraft noise is characterised by periods of acute disturbance followed by silence. These events are at their worst early in the morning and late at night and we do not want them for longer periods of the day. This issue adds particular weight to the case for refusing any increase in the existing limit on ATMs.Conclusion
13. The Federation believes that these arguments and those presented by Mr Hurford present a compelling case for refusal.
Proof of Evidence on Behalf of Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation by Michael Hurford
Housing and the Community30 April 2007
1. My name is Michael Hurford. I am President of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation. For many years I was a committee member of the Federation and of its predecessor organisation, the Civic Society.The Impact of Airport Expansion on Housing
2. The Inspector at the 1981/83 Planning Inquiry into Stansted Airport spent a great deal of time considering the possible effects of increased urbanisation and its environmental impact. He was aware of the low level of existing urbanisation in the area and, therefore, the small size of the local working population, the tight labour market and the low level of unemployment compared with the South East as a whole. He was aware too of the rural attractiveness of the area which meant competition for new housing built in the area.
3. In the end, he decided on a round figure of 10,000 houses to be built in two phases for an Airport capacity of 15mppa. Bishop's Stortford was to have an allocation of 2,500 'Airport related' houses with another 500 to be spread around other parts of East Hertfordshire. A thousand were built on the first major peripheral development at Bishop's Park and a second phase was, partly, built on the second peripheral development at St Michael's Mead. The full 2,500 were not completed because by then BAA had significantly reduced its estimate of the Airport workers required. This reduction came about because of improved technology and the minimum staffing levels provided by low cost airlines who had become the major users of Stansted.
4. The decision by local authorities to allow such a large number of houses to be built close to the Airport to avoid large scale development in rural areas has had significantly deleterious effects in Bishop's Stortford. Its population in 1991 was 27,864 against a population now of about 35,500, an increase of over 27%. Forty years ago, the populations of Bishop's Stortford and Hertford were similar with Ware about two thirds the size. The growing disparity in size of population between these three originally very similar towns has occurred particularly because of the heavy impact of Airport related housing on Bishop's Stortford. This has been compounded by the indefensible policy of allocating new housing provision in proportion to a town’s present size, irrespective of any consideration of that town’s ability to accommodate it or with the principles of sustainability. Thus Bishop's Stortford has had to bear a disproportionate burden of housing plus, of course, its car owning consequences in an already chronically congested historic town centre.
5. We have been told that BAA’s reliance on workers drawn from a wider catchment area combined with lower Airport employment generation forecasts mean that no further Airport related housing will be required. BAA has said publicly that 'more than enough has already been provided'. However, BAA’s proposals for unlimited expansion of throughput make us fear for new pressures for greater urbanisation, in which case, the 'Areas of Special Restraint' (ASRs) to the north of Bishop's Stortford would be seriously at risk of development. This land lying between the northern edge of the town and the northern bypass is the last open space not yet developed (apart from the Green Belt). It was designated as land which might be developed before any test of sustainability had been applied by local authorities. Subsequent analysis by the County Council, consultants employed to plan a settlement there and the recent Bishop's Stortford transportation study show quite clearly that to build on this land would destroy Bishop's Stortford as it now exists.
6. Despite all the evidence of unsustainability and the folly of building up to a bypass and then flooding it with local traffic, there has been an extraordinary reluctance to abandon the ASRs as sites for possible development. All the large peripheral developments which have been approved in the last two decades in Bishop's Stortford have been accompanied by recommendations that something must be done about the adverse environmental consequences. Nothing has been done because nothing can be done without destroying the mediaeval centre of the town.Impact of Airport Expansion on the Local Community
7. Airport expansion has not only affected the total housing provision in Bishop's Stortford but also the type of accommodation now being provided. The growth in the buy to let housing market has mushroomed in Bishop's Stortford, to a far greater extent than in the surrounding area. Casual observation suggests that much of this has arisen from growth in demand from a largely transient population working at the Airport or for airlines.
8. We welcome the social diversity which a growing population from many parts of Europe has brought to Bishop's Stortford. But the focus on this type of housing appears to have left the town with a shortage of affordable starter homes for families who have a long term stake in the local community. Further expansion of the Airport is likely to add to the demand for the rental market at the expense of affordable family housing – indeed the town centre is earmarked in the local plan for developments totalling some 1,500 dwellings – nearly all of them flats rather than houses.Conclusion
9. Unlimited expansion of the Airport, or even growth to 35 mppa, is likely to bring a range of adverse consequences to Bishop's Stortford which Mr Rhodes and I have described, and little, if any benefit. Mitigation of these may not be possible, but in any event BAA have offered none. For these reasons, the Federation believes that the passenger throughput should be capped at 25 mppa and that the limit on Air Transport Movements, for which the need for uplift has not been demonstrated, should remain unchanged.