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Uttlesford’s double-edged sword

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The presence of Stansted Airport is a double-edged sword for Uttlesford.

It provides a huge number of jobs and is convenient for local residents and businesses, but it also generates noise, pollution and road traffic.

Uttlesford was David in a struggle with the Goliath of BAA when it unsuccessfully sought to prevent increased use of the airport this year.

It will participate in a public inquiry next spring into construction of a second runway, though Essex CC will lead in opposing this.

Uttlesford gave planning permission for Stansted to handle 15 million passengers a year in 2003 and that will now increase to 25 million, even before any new runway comes.

Fighting BAA is an expensive hobby, given that councils can face costs bills if they lose at planning appeals, as Uttlesford has after losing on BAA’s application for the airport to handle an extra 10 million passengers a year.

“I don’t know how much it is for yet, as it’s complicatedly worded and a lawyer’s paradise,” Mr Mitchell says. “But that in itself sends out a sign to any local authority seeking to represent its local community over airport expansion it’s a risk to take on something you might lose.”

BAA buys up homes from people who no longer wish to live near airport ‘noise contours’, which it then rents out to others. “The character of an area changes,” he says. “It is very hard to pinpoint, but for those who have lived there all their lives support networks break down. And country people move out and others move in.

“This is a very rural area and we see ourselves as the hinterland for the growth area between London, Bishop’s Stortford and Cambridge. That rural area will get smaller if the airport doubles capacity.”

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