Statement to Stansted Expansion Inquiryl 14th January 2021

 I was immensely proud of the UDC councillors when they overturned MAG’s application to expand the airport. They were courageous in disregarding the shockingly one-sided advice of their planning officers, and unanimously agreeing that climate change, air quality and noise were material considerations. It was both a moral, ethical, informed and wholly democratic decision, and I was very privileged to be there. 

It also sent a momentous message to the wider world that our survival as a species was at last being considered within the planning process. 


For me, perhaps the most important outcome this inquiry should be that that noise, air quality and climate change should remain acknowledged in planning law as ‘material considerations’ , to be given full weight and consideration in the future. 


On 9th December last year the Climate Change Committee responded to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma’s, request for the Climate Change Committee’s advice on the level of the UK’s next Nationally Determined Contribution for 2030. 

They recommended that the UK commit to reduce territorial emissions by at least 68% from 1990 to 2030


Additionally, they encouraged the Prime Minister to make a 2030 commitment that is as bold as possible, to inspire other world leaders to follow suit, advising that the Government may choose to go beyond a 68% reduction. 


They stated that The NDC is more than just a number. It should be accompanied by wider climate commitments, including clear commitments to reduce international aviation and shipping emissions.


Additionally, the CCC, in a letter to Grant Schapps of 24th September 2019 said that the planning assumption for International Aviation and Shipping emissions should be to achieve net zero by 2050. They state that aviation emissions could be reduced by around 20% through greater efficiency and, critically, by limiting demand growth by 25%. 


Aviation can no longer regard itself as exempt from the urgent need to take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. 


Uttlesford Green Party strongly contend that this appeal should be dismissed in the light of these critical governmental and global priorities. Support for the M.A.G. appeal would make nonsense of the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution and our legal commitment in the Paris Agreement. It would also prove extremely embarrassing at the Glasgow COP 26 in November, where aviation lobbyists would seize on it as a sign of UK double standards.


In the run up to Christmas we had the pleasure of listening to Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, delivering the Reith lectures. 


He made a strong and urgent case that what we assign monetary value to, should be aligned with our Values, whereas business for the last 250 years has progressively divorced them. This application is all about financial gain, running roughshod over the things we value most: respect for health, quality of life and the future of humanity. 


Mr Carney was urgent in his arguments about the changes that banking, investment and business institutions need to make if we are to survive and minimise the effects of the crises we face.


He argued that: 

1.    Every financial decision should take climate change into account. 

2.    Companies should systematically report their climate-related financial risks 

3.    Auditors should provide assurance on how companies take the impact of 

climate change into account. 

4.    The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), should be the gold standard for climate reporting. 

     5. The Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System standards and scenarios should be used and adapted by any firm, in any sector, to assess the strategic resilience of their business to different climate outcomes. 


I urge the enquiry to take these proposed international requirements into account. They are fundamental to ensuring that businesses and investors all play their part in ensuring a survivable planet for current and future generations. 


M.A.G. should be required to make a full Climate-related Financial Disclosures and demonstrate how its plans are compatible with the Paris Agreement and the UK’s NDC, without making unsubstantiated claims about the possibilities of unproven technologies for clean, electric or hydrogen powered flight. 

M.A.G. are swimming against the tide of history in the most appallingly self- interested manner. 


It is time they took their share of the burden in the transition to a post fossil fuel world. 


Thank you.