5.3.7 Regional consultation on airport expansion
In July 2002, the DfT issued seven consultation documents representing the UK regions, detailing specific options for where and how airport growth might be accommodated, including the 28 options (24 South East plus 4 other regions) for airport expansion at 14 different locations within the UK. These options and locations were based on the South East and East of England Regional Air Service (SERAS) studies and the Regional Air Service (RAS) studies.
In these regional consultation documents, published collectively as ‘The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom’, the DfT made a strong case for airport expansion in the South East. It was stated that, for the South East, the expansion would result in £18 billion in direct quantifiable benefits, 80,000 new jobs and low air fares for everyone, while a constraint in development would mean that ‘return fights from the main South East airports, if no new runways were built by 2030, could cost on average around £100 more than today’. The figure of £18 billion is linked to an estimated capacity for the South East of 300 million passengers per annum. Note that even at this stage the pressure was very much on to meet the full capacity requirements as estimated in the SPASM modelling, with limited consideration of the responses to the original national consultation.
Interested public and organisational stakeholders were invited to make their views known on the seven consultation documents, via text responses to questions contained within the documents, or via the tick boxes of a summary National Opinion Poll questionnaire (internet- and paper-based).
Overall there were just under 500,000 responses, although the bulk (437,000) came through organised campaigns and/or petitions, with the South East providing 300,000 responses. The overwhelming message from the consultation was of opposition to airport expansion on the grounds of noise, air pollution, road congestion, loss of land and impact on the environment, wildlife and local community, yet business interests made a strong case for expansion based on socio-economic grounds.
Activity 23 Reading and listening to responses to the SERAS consultation
The audio programme, Consultation within the white paper, includes an outline of the consultation process as described by Department for Transport personnel, interviews with a selection of stakeholders made during this consultation phase and a critique of the process.
The readings below are the official responses to the SERAS consultation from five major organisations with an interest in airport expansion in the South East of England.
Read through the readings and make brief notes in your learning journal on the different responses described. Then listen to Consultation within the white paper and add to your notes by describing the other responses heard.
BAA (British Airports Authority) owns and operates seven UK airports and also has stakes in several overseas airports. They are ‘the world’s leading airport company’.
The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is one of eight regional development agencies in the UK. They are ‘responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of the South East of England – the driving force of the UK’s economy’.
Wandsworth Borough is in South West London and has a population of a little over a quarter of a million. It is one of 32 London boroughs. Wandsworth Borough Council is the local government body responsible for services within the borough.
Stop Stansted Expansion is a campaigning group opposed to the expansion of Stansted Airport. Their main objective is: ‘To contain the development of Stansted Airport within tight limits that are truly sustainable and, in this way, to protect the quality of life of residents over wide areas of Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk, to preserve our heritage and to protect the natural environment.’
Most UK towns and cities have a local Chamber of Commerce whose membership comprises local businessmen and women. They seek to represent the interests and support the competitiveness and growth of all businesses in their communities and regions. British Chambers of Commerce is the national collective of these groups. ‘The British Chambers of Commerce comprise a national network of quality-accredited Chambers of Commerce, all uniquely positioned at the heart of every business community in the UK and representing more than 135,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy – equivalent to five million jobs.’