PRWeek Awards 2011: Public Affairs

Since its launch in 2002, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has successfully scuppered the British Airport Authority's plans to build a second runway at Stansted Airport by developing key relationships.

Public Affairs Award winner: Stop Stansted Expansion ‘No Second Runway at Stansted Airport’
Public Affairs Award winner: Stop Stansted Expansion ‘No Second Runway at Stansted Airport’

SSE wanted to target individuals and organisations that could influence the runway decision including the Government, media, local authorities, environment groups, the authority's shareholders and the community directly affected.

The in-house PR team devised a strategy focused on three elements – legal, city and planning. It also wanted a delay to ensure environmental and economic arguments could rise up the political agenda.


"Proof that successful lobbying is not about contact books and huge budgets. Highly impressive"

Miles Celic, director of group public affairs and policy, Prudential

Alliances were formed with environmental groups and opponents of expansion at other airports to reinforce SSE advocacy at public inquiries and at three judicial review challenges in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Regular briefings contesting the business case for a second runway nurtured long-term relationships with aviation analysts and financial journalists. Cross-party support was secured from planning authority Uttlesford District Council and neighbouring authorities.

Key government relationships ensured SSE's contributions to consultations were relevant to the aviation debate, and the quality of SSE's briefings was praised in the House of Lords during the passage of the Civil Aviation Bill.

SSE worked with local communities across four counties, holding events and publishing newsletters. Celebrity support from Jamie Oliver, Terry Waite, Will Self and the Kaiser Chiefs helped to raise the campaign's profile.

The site attracted more than one million visitors during 2010 and 2011, and the campaign received local and national media coverage including exclusives on The Politics Show and BBC Inside Out.

All three political parties pledged their opposition to a second runway in their 2010 election manifestos, and this opposition was confirmed in the coalition Government's first policy statement. BAA formally withdrew its planning application on 24 May 2010 as a direct result of the removal of policy support.

The Book of the Night 2011 will be available in this week's issue of PRWeek

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