NEWS UPDATE - WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Since Stop Stansted Expansion's success in the High Court last November when the Government's consultation on the future of air transport was overturned, we have been busy preparing for the next round. We already have a head start in rolling out our plans thanks to the Government's delay in restarting the consultation - now due late February.
If you can attend, our community conference "Working Together to Win" at the Stansted Hilton (9 February) will explain more, examining our campaign plans for the new four month consultation and looking at how we can draw on local support to implement our campaign strategy. Telephone the campaign office (01279 870558) for more details.
Meanwhile, as a community campaign, we have already achieved far more than most people thought possible in opposing the Government's proposals for making Stansted the world's largest airport, double the size of Heathrow. We intend to continue to spearhead the local effort over the coming months - combining grass roots campaigning and local activities with political and Parliamentary lobbying - all supported by a comprehensive media programme to really drive home the message to Alistair Darling that we are not a soft target for expansion.
GETTING THE MESSAGE TO THE POLITICIANS
Our top priority is persuading Government Ministers and civil servants beyond the Department for Transport of the folly of the expansion plans. We are not only arranging briefing meetings to tell them face-to-face, we are also calling on the support of the community through letter writing and other campaign activities to reinforce the level of concern. (In February, we are targeting the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and need your help with this - see below.)
The rationale is that many members of the Cabinet and their advisors are currently unaware of the impact that the expansion proposals and the associated urbanisation would have on areas within their responsibility - such as our children's health, education and the environment. By making them aware of what is at stake, we believe we can win support in influencing the Secretary of State for Transport.
We will also continue to call on the Department for Transport to give greater consideration to the feasibility of offshore airports if expansion really is necessary - an area where we have already made great inroads and which the media have reported upon with interest. We are also exploring further legal avenues to back up our call. After all, while we believe that demand management must play a part in containing demand, if the Government is set on expanding capacity then options which do not blight the lives of over three quarters of a million people - as expansion at Stansted would - must be worthy of proper examination.
KEEPING THE COMMUNITY INFORMED
Our efforts to raise local awareness of the Government's plans and what they mean for the region will also continue. A programme of public meetings will begin once the new consultation begins so that we can explain what their impact will be. We also hope to continue to provide you with regular updates of this type in the months ahead - provided our funds can afford it!
Meanwhile, liaison with local media - television, radio and the press have so far been very supportive - will continue as part of our programme of providing regular updates on our activities, successes and plans. Our website also remains a vital source of information for thousands of people while our email database and monthly membership letters provide useful channels for sharing information.
STANSTED: THE WORLD'S LARGEST AIRPORT?
Many people, however, still fail to realise that the expansion plans will affect them. The truth is that this isn't just about adding a few more planes or passengers but about a fivefold increase in flights and nine times as many passengers if full expansion goes ahead with three extra runways. Even one extra runway - seen by some as a compromise option - would make our 'Airport in the Countryside' bigger than Heathrow.
We will therefore be working harder than ever to reach out into the community, to explain what is happening and how people can take action to oppose the plans.
DRAWING ON LOCAL SUPPORT
Boosting our membership is important as it will show the Government the scale of formal opposition in the community. It is also an important source of revenue for the campaign which has many costs to cover. These include publicity and campaign office expenses, media relations and lobbying consultants, print and postage - though we are fortunate to be able to draw on thousands of hours per month of voluntary support in running the campaign and many generous donors.
If you aren't already a member, please do consider joining now with a minimum recommended donation of £10. See joining form on separate leaflet or phone for one.
…AND FINALLY, FORTHCOMING CAMPAIGN EVENTS
- 9 February
- SSE Community Conference, Hilton Hotel, Stansted Airport
- 15 February
- Sorcery Among The Snowdrops Treasure Trail at the Gardens of Easton Lodge
- 15 February
- Smooth Jazz Evening with the Jazz Voyagers, Clavering
- 22 March
- Pies, Puds and Plonk Evening
- 5 April
- Race Night, Little Easton
Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign Office: Tel 01279 870558
P.O. Box 311, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, Herts CM22 6PY