Campaigners against the expansion of Stansted Airport say they will use latest figures showing Ryanair as one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge.

The airline, which transports 130 million people a year, 21 million of whom currently travel through Stansted Airport, produced 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9 per cent on last year and 49 per cent over the past five years.

Brain Ross from Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said that the group will include the data from the EU’s Transport & Environment group showing Ryanair as the tenth biggest CO2 emitter – all nine others are coal fired power stations – to prove the decision by Uttlesford District Council to approve the expansion of Stansted Airport to 43 million passengers per annum should be called in for determination by the government.

The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has already explained that his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of more than local importance.

But SSE considers this to be at odds with the facts that the noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, as is the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted Airport.

Mr Ross said: “That is part of our argument to the Secretary of State.

“Stansted produces about 3.7m tonnes of CO2 a year and Ryanair carries about 80 per cent of all passengers at Stansted.

“Of course it’s a big polluter and one of the arguments we put to Uttlesford District Council and one we will put to the High Court to get it called in is this is not just a local issue. It’s not just a national issue. It’s a global issue.

“You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like. There needs to be national co-ordination.”

The group has now taken a judicial review action against Mr Brokenshire for not deeming the application to be nationally significant and therefore for it not be called in under his powers.

In short, SSE believes that he was wrong to say that the further expansion of Stansted does not involve issues of more than local importance.

SSE already has an outstanding judicial review application against the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his decision of  June 28, 2018, to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by Uttlesford District Council.

This case was originally scheduled for a two-day High Court hearing in February, but has been delayed to await the decision of the Communities Secretary.

Mr Ross said: “We have got all the data we need to demonstrate the significance of this – we have got Department for Transport predictions for Stansted through to 2050 and the airport’s own projections – but actually as a little bit to spice up the application and bring it to life for the benefit of the judge we will almost bring the Ryanair figures to his attention.”

Ken O’Toole, London Stansted chief executive, previously welcomed the Government’s decision to allow Uttlesford District Council to decide on the airport’s expansion.

“From the outset our local community has been a vital partner in this planning process, and their feedback has shaped our proposals which do not seek an increase in the permitted number of flights, and commit us to achieving a smaller noise footprint in the future than our existing permissions require,” he said.

“Our application is in line with the government’s aviation policy which supports airports seeking to make best use of existing runway capacity, and our proposals have been endorsed by a wide range of independent public bodies as part of a thorough local decision-making process.

 “We have always believed that the application should be determined locally, and this view has been supported by the Secretary of State Transport and now also the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.”