Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Campaigners lose airport battle

Protest by airport campaigners
Campaigners said the action was not about winning or losing

Campaigners have lost their legal battle to block the expansion of Stansted Airport in Essex.

Airport owner BAA wants to increase passenger numbers from 25 million to 35 million a year and outbound flights from 241,000 to 264,000 a year.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) argued the government did not give proper consideration to "adverse effects" when it approved the expansion.

High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes dismissed the legal challenge.

The SSE accused the government, in its decision last October, of unlawfully "steamrollering these plans every step of the way".

Appeal bid

Paul Stinchcombe, for SSE, told the judge there had been a failure to take proper account of the adverse effects on UK trade and the additional noise that would be suffered.

He said they had failed to give proper consideration to the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which would be emitted as a result of the decision to approve the extra flights.

He said these issues were disregarded, despite the government having acknowledged it was right to consider them when deciding whether to approve the expansion project.

The judge said the group's criticisms of the way the matter had been handled were "unjustified and without substance".

He said the government had not misinterpreted or misapplied air transport policy.

The judge said it was clear environmental information relating to greenhouse gas emissions had been properly considered.

Carol Barbone, of Stop Stansted Expansion, said the judgement confuses the issue

The ruling comes weeks after the government announced a public inquiry into a second runway at Stansted had been delayed.

It had been due to start on 15 April, but was postponed until the publication of a report on the proposed sale of the airport due later this year.

SSE campaign director Carol Barbone said: "This High Court action was never simply about winning or losing.

"Our primary concern was to ensure that our main battle against a second Stansted runway was not prejudiced by the wording of the original decision.

"However, today's ruling seems to make matters even less clear than they were before. That is why we are seeking leave to appeal."

The judge refused permission to appeal, but SSE lawyers can still ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear their case.

Legal costs

The group was ordered to pay the government's legal costs up to an agreed limit of 20,000.

Stansted commercial and development director Nick Barton said it was the "right decision" and one he expected.

He said: "This is a very good day for the millions of people who need and want to fly to visit their friends and family, go on well-earned holidays or travel on business.

Campaigner Peter Sanders: 'We're very disappointed''

"It's also great news for the thousands of people who work at the airport, and the countless number of businesses that depend on Stansted right across the region, especially given the current economic conditions we are all facing."

A Department for Transport spokesman added: "We welcome the court's dismissal of this appeal on all grounds and its recognition that we acted properly.

"Runway capacity in the South East is scarce, so we believe it is right the best use is made of the existing runway at Stansted."

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said the decision was "disappointing".

He said: "Yet again, ministers plan to ride roughshod over the views of local people, imposing more flights, more noise pollution and more carbon emissions."



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SEE ALSO
Westminster airport protest
14 Oct 08 |  England
Stansted expansion plans
09 Oct 08 |  England

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