“We have listened to you” Chief Executive of London Stansted tells local communities

  • Growth will be “in the best interests of the community” says Ken O’Toole in open letter to residents
  • Letter published ahead of meeting of Uttlesford District Council to consider increase in passenger numbers

The Chief Executive of London Stansted has written an open letter to local residents, setting out the airport’s future plans and how they will benefit the region. Ken O’Toole also addressed concerns about the local and environmental impacts of the airport’s proposals, saying “now more than ever we know it is critical to get this right.”

He also explained that extensive independent assessment of the application showed it “would create no significant harm, whether that be with regards air quality, carbon, noise or transport.”

The letter comes ahead of a meeting of Uttlesford District Council’s Planning Committee this Friday (24th January), at which members will once again consider the airport’s application to serve more passengers, which was approved in November 2018.

As for previous meetings to consider this application, the advice from the Council’s own officers and independent legal experts is very clear that there is no reason to continue withholding final approval.

Full text of the open letter, plus background media briefing can be found below.

Open letter from Ken O’Toole to local residents:

As your local airport, Stansted’s success has always been rooted in the optimism and success of the region we serve and we are proud of the efforts we make to ensure our growth is in the best interests of the community.

We have always supported a healthy and accurate debate about our future and when we asked the local community what you wanted from our future growth you were very clear – that you appreciate that a healthy Stansted is good for the region but the airport’s impact on local communities and the environment need to be managed properly.

As a result, we submitted a planning application to Uttlesford District Council that sought approval to increase the number of passengers the airport can welcome through its doors each year. This increase will see us make best use of our existing single runway but at the same time included a legal commitment to not add any more flights than Government gave us permission for back in 2008. We are able to do this because of three reasons: 1) Aircraft technology is developing all the time, meaning short-haul aircraft which make up most services at Stansted are getting slightly bigger, as well as quieter and more fuel-efficient 2) We are also anticipating these aircraft will be fuller 3) Stansted will attract additional long-haul carriers which operate larger aircraft.

We have asked for this increase because Stansted is seeing increasing demand from passengers and airlines wanting to take advantage of our upgraded facilities and spare runway capacity and we also hear regularly from residents that they are fed up of having to spend valuable time and money on travelling to Heathrow or Gatwick to catch flights.

An approval will also provide our local community with clear commitments on how we will manage our growth over the next ten years. Crucially, it will enable us and our airlines to confidently invest in delivering new jobs, better facilities for our customers, and infrastructure to support the increase in passengers. These are major investments of hundreds of millions of pounds and take a long time to plan and deliver. Growth will hopefully mean more of what we have been able to announce recently – exciting new airlines flying to places local people and businesses want to reach all over the world.

For many years, we have been focused on protecting and enhancing the natural environment for the next generation, so they have a healthy and beautiful country in which to build their lives. We have long been leaders in this field and now more than ever we know it is critical to get this right and we understand the concerns many have about the future of our planet.

Our proposal to grow has been subject to a comprehensive environmental assessment which has been carefully scrutinised by Uttlesford Council officials and its independent consultants. The verdict from their assessment of this evidence is unanimous - that the data underpinning the assessments is valid, the methodology used complies with all the latest policy and legal requirements set by Government, and importantly that our application to grow would create no significant harm, whether that be with regards air quality, carbon, noise or transport.

Finally, we have worked with Uttlesford Council to identify a £35 million package of measures that would be triggered on the back of approval being granted. These measures must meet strict Government guidelines and legal tests which ensure that planning permission cannot be either ‘bought or sold’. This package would deliver significant improvements to the District’s transport infrastructure, employment prospects, educational provision, community funding, and environmental schemes to avoid pollution, including sound insulation to residents’ properties.

The future is certainly looking bright for Stansted and I look forward to keeping you updated on our exciting plans.

Yours faithfully,

Ken O’Toole

Chief Executive, London Stansted Airport