Are we heading for worst case scenario?

Whilst we wait for the decision on a judicial review of the decision to grant planning consent for the extended runway the clock ticks closer to the Olympics and the need for Southend airport to start offering flights and make a name for itself. Stobarts have continued to invest, a new control tower, a new station, plans for a hotel etc. When will Stobarts cut their losses, decide to abandon the extended runway and just make the best of what they have? And what will that mean for the residents of Southend.

Well, as it stands there are precious little controls on night flights, the existing runway can only handle older, noisier, more polluting planes and their range is more limited. So are we going to see all the benefits negotiated with the airport and agreed within the planning consent for the extended runway lost? The restriction on night flights, the restriction on approach and take off over built up Southend, the controls to restrict noise and the provision of assistance for those that might experience an increase in disturbance etc. would all be lost. Instead are we going to get night flights, more smaller, noisier and more polluting planes flying to closer airports than is realistically viable with the ensuing need for more freight (also controlled under the planning consent) and constant road closures every time a plane takes off with the ensuing congestion and queuing. Well I sincerely hope not, but given the deliberate delaying tactic of SAEN and the delay in Judicial Review I think this worst case scenario is day by day becoming a real possibility.

Let’s be quite clear- even if the judicial review gets the go ahead and even if following that judicial review the runway extension was not allowed Southend Airport could still operate an airport using the existing runway and without the many controls imposed by the planning consent. It would be a truly pyrrhic victory that saw SAEN successful in the courts.

Southend has two main economic drivers that could produce a real improvement in the economic standing of the town and its residents – the Airport and the Seafront with its Pier.

An airport, fully functioning as a passenger airport, a world class maintenance facility and a logistics hub would create significant employment both on and off airport. Much needed jobs from the basic to the really advanced would be generated for residents and the kudos of a fully functioning airport would have considerable knock benefit for local firms, the town and wider area. So not only can we expect jobs at the airport but also within the supply chains across the area and within existing local firms that get a boost from Southend having an Airport.

I want Southend to flourish; I believe that for this to happen Southend has to move forward, to use its assets carefully and to best effect. The opportunities on the seafront and Pier are enormous, but more of this another time. The runway extension planning consent wrote in more controls than currently exist, Southend will be a quieter, safer, more pleasant place and will be more economically self sufficient with better prospects with the runway extension than without it.

SAEN are causing more damage to Southend than many realise, sooner or later Stobarts will take the decision to cut their losses, to abandon, at least in the short term the runway extension, to use what they can and to get on with running an airport and ironically  it is the very residents under the flight path that we sought to protect via the planning consent that will suffer the most, as and when the airport and Stobart decide to go ahead on the existing runway and under the existing lease terms.

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19 responses to “Are we heading for worst case scenario?

  1. Pingback: SAEN:

  2. It’s clear from Anna Waite’s piece that she has never taken the time to read SAEN’s objection to the planning application. In it, we comprehensively explore and debunk the majority of what she says – a year before she wrote it.

    The Olympics are not the opportunity that the airport claims. The demand created by the Olympics can easily be handled by the existing infrastructure at the large airports as enough spare capacity already exists. Even with the extended runway, Southend would only be able to serve a small number of smaller airports and is further from Stratford than London City in any case. There is therefore no role for Southend Airport to play in the Olympics, which would only provide business for a month in any case.

    The lack of controls on night flights are a result of both Southend and Rochford Councils choosing to set lax restrictions in the first place and then refusing to engage in the airport review process. SAEN has challenged them repeatedly to meet the airport owners to review the restrictions, which is due to be done quinquennially – most recently on 19th July 2009. While it is technically true that the new restrictions Southend Council have agreed with the airport are tighter than those currently in force, the practical result would be a vast increase in night flights as there are currently very few. Moreover, the new restrictions exclude quota count exempt aircraft and so in practice, an unlimited number of night flights would be possible.

    It was through either incompetence or corruption that the Council sold the 150-year airport lease for one pound in 1994. Given the millions of pounds of tax payers’ money they have poured into it since then in what appears to be illegal state aid, it appears to be the latter. It’s sweet that Mrs Waite is concerned that our victory will be pyrrhic, but she should let us worry about that.

    Regarding the economic drivers argument, the Council really needs to check its facts. Airports in this country are a net drain on the economy to the tune of about £18bn a year as they take people out of the country to spend their money elsewhere and bring far fewer tourists back. An expansion of the airport of the scale being considered would create at best a couple of hundred jobs and Stobart has already made more than that redundant since they took over. If Mrs Waite believes the only two things to recommend Southend are the Pier and the airport, she really should get out more.

    What the Council and the airport both fail to realise is that aviation is unsustainable. There is a limited supply of remaining oil (expected to stop being economically extractable by about 2030) and irrespective of that, we have to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow global warming. If Mrs Waite really wants Southend to flourish, our local economy needs to be built on industries that are going to last more than twenty years.

  3. Hmmm ….According to the University of Southampton. Southampton airport’s economic contribution to the region is more than £86million per year…. Yet SAEN suggest Southend Airport (which is aiming to be a similar size) would leach money from the economy?

    SAEN clearly do not know the discussions going on regarding the Olympics and have no idea of the Air traffic expected or the capacity of other Airports in the London area. To say Southend (located on a direct line to Stratford) can play no role in the Olympics shows a lack of knowledge.
    The Olympics are not the sole objective of the Airport, but an extremely useful springboard to demonstrate the Airports place in the market.

    Denis has stated that since Stobart took over they have made more than 200 people redundant? The Airport company itself did not employ more than 200 people in the first place.
    There were companies based at the Airport that made redundancies following the economic crisis, and while it is true that a handful of jobs were lost through the airport company, other more senior positions have been created by Stobart and more jobs are being created as the Airport works progress. Therefore a net gain.
    Job gain will not be restricted to the Airport. It is the extra employment created from the service and support industries etc. as a result of expansion in the area as a whole.

    Denis’s views on peak oil are subject to debate and come from his position as local co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth.
    While its true Oil is harder to find, technology moves on, but one could go on about that until the cows come home.

    The Section 106 agreement means the tightest controls following concerns from the public.
    If the application for the Judicial review is successful and worst case scenario the extension is blocked. Denis may rejoice at an environmental campaign victory, but as an area we will miss out on an opportunity thats been waiting for a company like Stobart to realise.
    As suggested the Airport will still operate, but without the controls negotiated with a longer safer runway.

    I write this ‘unofficially’ as an employee at the Airport (before Stobart arrived) and a resident of Southend.
    There is a real air of optimism and job security at the airport, and its great to see the level of investment Stobart group are making as we see our old Airport move well into the 21st century.

  4. As usual Denis’s response is filled with distortions and inaccuracies (to put it mildly).
    Just two examples:
    1) City airport will not have the capacity to accept additional Olympic flights to any great extent so it’s closeness to the Olympic site is irrelevant, while Southend will be far more covenient than Stansted ot Luton.
    2) Stobarts have certainly not made anything like a couple of hundred people redundant and he knows it, and staff are being recruited in fact as I write this.
    If he was correct that “oil is expected to stop being economically extractable by about 2030” we would not be worrying about a little thing such as the expansion of an airport – we would all be facing a worldwide recession on a scale never even approached before with calamitous results for the entire world population, not least developing countries.
    Of course, the facts have never suited SAEN as they don’t support their anti-Southend airport arguments but their very limited level of public support shows that people have long ago realised that fact.

  5. The comments made by Denis Walker stand up to critical examination. What does not stand up to objective analysis is the council’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with its ‘Nottingham Declaration’ commitment, whilst supporting expansion at Southend airport. You cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the traget set by 2020 and increase aviation at the same time. So that is just one of the reasons why the council should be challenged in the courts by the judicial review process.

    As for peak oil – which nrearly banrupted the entire world when oil hit $147 a barrel (it forced the USA into deeper recession, exposing the housing bubble which then nearly took down the global financial markets!) – Denis Walker is spot on!! Just take a look at the financial press for warnings about peak oil.

    To start with, look at the FT in November: –

    Peak Oil in the Financial Times blog: –

    http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2010/11/18/protect-us-from-peak-oil-says-richard-branson-and-others/

    This is big business pushing government to wake up to the reality that we are soon going to hit peak oil. Don’t blame Denis Walker for that!! He is one of the people trying to protect people from the consequences of peak oil. The next time oil prices go through the roof we are going to lose far more jobs than are at stake as a result of the airport decision.

    Those supporters of expansion at Southend airport should wake up to the harsh reality that we live on a planet with finite resources.

    We in Southend should be looking at the tourism potential of eco-short breaks, sailing, surfing, kayaking and cycling. Environmentalists have put a detailed plan for economic expansion of the town based upon a responsible use of natural resources – naturally it was totally ignored by this council.

  6. Having read Anna Waits comments I submit the following views as I did sometime ago to a local paper.
    I believe it to be pie in the sky in that the Airport will encourage tourism to the town. If people should fly into Southend they will embark straight onto the trains from the newly constructed Airport Station and go directly to London.
    This most certainly will apply regarding the Olympics in 2012. Its very unlikely, in fact quite unbelievable, that people will fly in with an aim to wander around and spend their well earned cash up and down an uninspiring precinct which mirrors the same basic design as many others in the U.K or that they will take time out to wander down a pier which offers nothing at its end because of the continuous dithering of consecutive councils.
    If they should fly into Southend at all they will come for the main body of the Olympics and its spectacle and that is at the Olympic stadium complex at the other end of the line in Stratford, London.
    Even if people should travel from London by train to fly from Southend to go abroad for business or holidays that is exactly what they will do; in actual fact the new Airport station will serve to keep them away from the town. It will be straight off the train and on to the plane and the same will apply on a return journey.
    When flying from Gatwick do holiday makers or business people wander around and spend their money in Crawley? So, all this talk about bringing wealth and prosperity to our hotels, shops and the town in general I believe to be nothing short of a badly dangled suspiciously rotten carrot.
    I am extremely sorry for our town’s hotel trade and shops if they have been given and are under the impression that they will benefit from any expansion of the Airport. The Stobarts Airport web-site clearly states that the airport development scheme will include a high quality Hotel. In fact the designs have already been submitted and approved.
    If indeed there is going to be increased passenger flights those same passengers will be provided with all required services within the airport complex of a new terminal building the same as at other airports which incidentally are in most cases, with motorways as part of a well thought out infrastructure, more conveniently accessible compared to what Southend has to offer with a frequently congested A127 and A13 .
    No amount of tinkering with Progress Road and Cuckoo Corner or blocking off and diverting traffic from, at present, a well functioning historical lane is going to alleviate what could well become absolute gridlock on the only two ‘major’ roads in and out of our town which in the long term will drastically effect business in the town and those who out of necessity have to drive out of town to earn their living.
    I am of the strong opinion that the only people to prosper from the Airport if the runway extension and general expansion takes place will be Stobarts who now own what was once Southend Municipal Airport.
    Stobarts are about Stobarts and its my belief that Stobarts, a haulage firm, are firstly and foremost about freight. Passenger flights are but a ploy and any expansion of the airport will be to the sad detriment of this town and us its rate paying citizens.

  7. Jon Fuller needs to learn the difference between Peak Oil (which is the year in which world oil production reaches its historical maximum) and Denis’s ridiculous claim that “oil will stop being economically extractable by about 2030”. Mr Fuller’s comments simply confirm my belief that SAEN cannot get their facts right even when they try.
    Just which of Denis’s other comments “stand up to critical examination” I should be very pleased to have explained to me.

  8. One quesstion for those who support airport expansion, and the increased usage of fuel, what right do you have to put claim, to oil and leave the planet dry for your ancestors, your greed now , cannot but affect the lives of your future genarations , your children and so on , I fear for my childrens future, when they will need to visit a musum to find out what oil was , greed and selfishness, who cares about the future its now I worry about , set the alarm, and wake up in the real world, the sad thing is the alarm is already ringing it just greed and selfishnes is making you coveinently deaf

  9. Without wanting to get embroiled in the Peak oil debate and with respect their are 2 sides to every story.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/business/energy-environment/17FUEL.html?_r=1

    With regard to Freight…
    With the section 106 agreement only 10% of the permitted 53300 movements per annum could be freight, and Stobart have repeatedly stated the Airport will not be a freight hub. Without the extension no such restrictions will be in place.
    If passenger flights are a ploy, then the passenger station and new terminal along with the hotel are a very expensive decoy.

    I would urge Mr Monk to read the documents regarding traffic levels on the A127 as a consequence of 2m passengers per year.

    • James
      I thank you for your polite comments to which I have given due consideration.
      Regarding your statement, ‘Without the extension no such restrictions will be in place’.
      I believe it to be a very sad day that our council appears to find themselves held over a barrel or in plainer terms ‘do as we say or else’ by the now owners of the Airport. How was this allowed to happen or should we be looking at once again, as suggested by many, from the very start, a scenario of ‘a done deal.’

  10. I cannot understand Anna Waites’ assertion that only older and noisier aircraft will be able to use the airport if the runway is not extended. Surely the more efficient modern jets require a shorter distance for take-off. This seems to be nothing more than another attempt at scare mongering!

  11. Mrs. Waite has got it right for once. It is ckear that Mr. Denis Walker is either ignorant of the truth and reality or is just a self centred liar.
    When we recieved the fantastic news that John Denham decided the runway extension plans would not go to piblic enqiry, Mrs. Kiti Theobald wrote a very respectable letter to the Leigh Times outlining what SAEN had acheived and it was now time to give up the fight. True SAENs pressure did allow for srict night aps to be made part of the deal.
    Yet, Kiti has has no respectfully walked away with Dignity while denis, the ‘enviromental campaigner’ wants to come along, ruin the airport and make it into a nature reserve. He does not care about noise under the flightpath (which there will be very little.) he lives in Prittlewell, not under the flightpath at all.
    He belives that the Airpor is bad, yet is struggling to provide any PROPER or VALID evidence to support his often ridiculous claims and lies. It is disgusting that one sellfish man can put the future wellbeing of Southend in jeapordy. He has not been elected. despite his best efforts SAEN (a supposedly non political organisation) has told people how to vote, (The Green Party, not suprisingly. to make matters worse, SAEN will not even stump up the legal fees for this ridiculous legal challenge. Even denis knows that even if the judge hears the case, they will not win. Stobarts have got plenty of money set aside. unlike the tax payer who will be funding your cowardly attemts through legal aid.
    Denis, care more for your vegetable, at least messing with them won’t put the future economic and job prospects for the people of Southend at risk.

  12. Tony, your own assertion is incorrect. It’s quite complicated, check the video on the flysouthend2012 website and you will understand why.
    Noiser, older aircraft will also be able to fly into Southend with a longer ruway, but they will be strictly contorlled. newer modern aircraft carrying passengers need more runway to tkeoff du to higher weights. with the extended runway, there will be far less older noisier aircraft as dictated by the conditional planning controls.

  13. So, there we have it in black and white, Evening Echo Saturday 11 December 2010
    Sneak Peak at New-Look Airport (6am)

    ‘The vision is for passengers from the airport to be whisked by train from to the Olympic site, in Stratford, East London, in about 45 minutes.’

    Just as I and many others predicted…..OFF THE PLANE AND ON THE TRAIN.
    Perhaps I have also just predicted a new Stobart slogan.
    So now will someone from the Southend Council explain how such is going to enhance the wealth of the town?
    Of cause there is also the following quote from the Airport Community Affairs Coordinator.

    ’’When people arrive here to use the airport, staff will be able to advise them on their onward journey.” ……………………..OFF THE TRAIN AND ON THE PLANE.

    Again, will someone from the Southend Council explain how this is going to contribute to the prosperity of the town? All profit it would seem will go to Stobarts, the owners of the Airport and their possible Airline while all the inconvenience many times stated elsewhere will go to the people of this town……..unless of cause you live somewhere like Barling far, far away from the flight path.
    Wake up please Councillors Anna Waite and Nigel Holdcroft for I fear you and others have been somewhat hoodwinked to the possible detriment of those you were elected to serve.

  14. How about the revenue from the business attracted to Southend and the Thames Gateway with a fully functioning Airport, good links to Europe with minimal fuss and delay?
    How about the revenue from employees that live and work in the area?
    The list goes on.
    There will be people that choose to use conference facilities WITHIN THE TOWN. A town which will have good links to the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe.
    Inevitably you will also get the groups of people that will see Southend as a destination for weekends away to use the local clubs etc. Like it or not people are drawn to coastal towns if they have good transport links and a nightlife.
    The Airport already has an established programme of training largely local people from scratch and developing their careers through management training programs. This is new since Stobart took us over.
    That is on top of the Air Traffic Controllers, Fire and rescue crew and maintenance companies which are not low paid menial jobs described by some quarters.
    I also know the flexibility the longer runway with vastly improved navigation Aids on both ends of the runway will give us.
    Peter following on from your reply earlier. It’s not a case of the Airport holding the council or town over a barrel or done deals. What is clear is Stobart have/are making a large and valuable investment to the Airport. They will be seeking a return on their investment and IF they are unable to extend the runway then it is not unreasonable to assume they will want to maximise the return on the current limited runway. That is not scaremongering or threats, its a reasonable assumption and basically what is being implied by Anna Waite above.
    Thankfully the plans continue and I look forward to the long term future at the Airport and more staff joining as in the near future.

  15. Anna Waite is absolutely correct in recognising the airport as being vital to the economic prospects of the town and in being aware that the SAEN motives are about making the airport miss the Olympic ‘boat’. They know how important this event is for the airport which, if they had their way would no longer exist.
    I agree with ‘Not SAENIN’s comments concerning Kitty Theobald’s letter in the local press. I recall that she was quite conciliatory and although an opponent, I had respect for her writing as she did.
    Dennis Walker’s statement concerning all airports speaks volumes and I imagine that if it were up to him we would all be taking our holidays at Butlins. However, I believe that he probably has a perception of power and the environmental angle comes second place. This is borne out by the fact that SAEN are contradicting their environmental credentials by trying to stop the runway extension and associated safety aids all of which will permit more modern, cleaner airliners to operate commercially.
    Referring to SAEN’s other member whom, we are told, has obtained legal aid in order to seek a judicial review of the council’s handling of the planning process, I wonder how it is that an individual ( a member of a limited company) can be in receipt of public money in order to challenge a local authority and yet remain anonymous?
    How do those who claim that no passengers would be interested in stopping off in Southend explain all the Belgian shoppers who frequented the High Street in the days when the airport last had connections with the Continent? I have made reference to these events before and how good it was to witness Belgian families in Keddies, but there are none so deaf as those who do not wish to hear.
    It is good to find more and more people making their voices heard in support of the airport as it gives encouragement to our local councillors in Southend and Rochford, so many of whom have been bombarded with negative correspondence from a vociferous few. What with that and the M.P. for Southend West going to great lengths in the role of saboteur when he should be supporting the local economy, rather than trying to debilitate it. Local councillors need to know that the vast majority of residents support their ambitions for Southend Airport and the economic greater good of this part of Essex.

  16. I find it quite fascinating to see the bile coming from ‘Norfolk’ and ‘NotInsaen’ and so telling to see the personal abuse they hurl at Denis Walker. Denis is one of those opposed to expansion of aviation in general, primarily because of the greenhouse gas emissions but he, like most people, is also concerned by the wider environmental impacts expansion will bring. ‘Notinsane’ (is that Rick J?) and ‘Norfolk’ would find more people would listen to them if they dropped the abuse and instead addressed the entirely legitimate fears of the great majority of local residents.

    People are very worried by the noise, night flights and added congestion. Well informed people are very worried by the prospects of an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the prospects of peak oil. Yet some supporters of expansion of aviation refuse to answer the legitimate questions posed and rely upon abuse. No wonder then that the great mass of people in Southend are not convinced by the pro- expansion brigade!

    So: here’s a challenge – please explain, as if you were in a court of law, how the council is going to hit its Nottingham Declaration CO2 target if it allows aviation to increase as planned at Southend airport?

    Can you the pro-expansion lobby also explain to me why well informed people should not be concerned by the imminent prospects of peak oil? Those on my side of the fence read the literature coming from geologists and from big business and can see that there is a very real danger that we will hit peak oil in the coming decade. Denis Walker makes an additional point concerning the amount of energy needed to get oil out of the ground. He makes the point that the energy inputs begin to close on the energy outputs by around 2030. This he refers to in economic terms, noting it will eventually become uneconomic to extract the remaining oil. This might be difficult for ‘norfolk’ to grasp but it is a point worth careful thought. Oil companies are not going to extract every last drop of their proven listed reserves in each oil well – there comes a point at which extraction becomes too expensive.

    I would argue that it is in our national interest to discuss these issues and Denis Walker does us a great service in the work that he does.

  17. Mr Fuller,
    Having read all the above posts, it is yours that are most confrontational. Mr Walker is ‘targeted’ in the responses as he is the spokesman for SAEN.
    You are correct people are/were concerned about the potential effects the Airport expansion may have. These have been explained in the website below and through the long well publicised consultation process (also outlined in the website).
    Sadly SAEN resorted to scaremongering and inaccuracies

    http://www.flysouthend2012.com

    This site provides links to the consultation process carried out and explains the airports commitment to reducing its carbon footprint through emissions trading and good practice.

    I am interested to know how you have come to the conclusion that the great mass of people are against the expansion?

    Again you are correct in saying it is in our national interest to discuss the issues. I have posted one of many articles available that discuss ‘Peak oil’ from the other side of the fence above.

    Regards

  18. Sorry for the delay in replying. Time does not permit me to respond to every response to my articles and other comments.

    1. My belief that the vast majority of people in Southend oppose expansion is due to a. the public consultation run by Southend and Rochford, b. the huge quantity number of public contact I had when I helped form the two separate campaign groups opposed to expansion (CAGG and now SAEN). (CAGG was the group formed when the former airport owners came forward with the insane scheme to demolish ‘move’ the church), c, the response I have from the public when delivering leaflets for SAEN. I also chaired a number of the public meetings associated with expansion. So I have a good deal of experience on this.

    Turning to the point on climate change – supporters of expansion always dodge this issue. The argument that cleaner aircraft is going to result in the 80-90% reeuctions needed is absolutely ludicrous. The industry wants expansion everywhere – not just in Southend. It wants expansion at Stanstead, Heathrow, Gatwick, Southend – everywhere! So there is no way that it has any interest in delivering real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The best we can hope for is that new aircraft will pollute less but , if we permit expansion, total emissions will increase.

    I believe that councillors, the Conservative controlled local authority, the aviation industry and those in favour of expansion all know that. I think they all know full well that expansion in aviation means an increase in CO2 emissions and, frankly, I think they don’t care. When the United Nations tell us billions of people could be forced into starvation, it is my belief that supporters of aviation expansion simply don’t care.

    That is why I see this as a simple battle – a battle between good and evil.

    OK – are there any other questions you have for me?

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