Airport battle gets underway

IT was a day of dogfights before the major skirmishes begin in the three-month battle which will decide the future of the region's biggest airport.Objectors clashed with BAA, owners of Stansted, as each side opened its case at the public inquiry yesterday which will decide whether the Essex terminal will be allowed to handle a further ten million passengers a year.

By Richard Cornwell

IT was a day of dogfights before the major skirmishes begin in the three-month battle which will decide the future of the region's biggest airport.

Objectors clashed with BAA, owners of Stansted, as each side opened its case at the public inquiry yesterday which will decide whether the Essex terminal will be allowed to handle a further ten million passengers a year.

It will mean the number of flights on the current runway being increased from 241,000 to a maximum 264,000 a year. BAA says this will mean around 35 million passengers using the airport by 2015.


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Opponents claim it will have a “catastrophic” impact on the environment, while supporters say it is in line with government policy.

BAA said the expansion was essential to the economy and some people wanted the benefits associated with aviation without having to live near a runway.

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Michael Humphries QC, representing BAA, said: “As a generality it can be said people like the benefits that infrastructure brings but often do not like to be near to such infrastructure.

“People expect their lights to come on when they turn the switch on the wall but don't like living near power stations. They want their gas central heating to work in the winter but do not like living near gas storage or distribution facilities.

“The list goes on and includes road, rail and airport infrastructure.”

During his opening address at the inquiry held at the airport's Endeavour House he said that the plans to increase the capacity of the airport were in line with government policy.

Thomas Hill, for Uttlesford District Council, Essex and Hertfordshire county councils, highlighted the “many and varied” negative impacts of the scheme that BAA were in “denial” over and said air quality, noise levels and impact on the countryside had not been properly considered.

Paul Stinchcombe, for Stop Stansted Expansion, said claims the development would be an “environmental catastrophe”.

“Global warming is a threat of such gravity that we must make decisions now to dramatically reduce emissions, not increase them incrementally,” he said.

Growth of Stansted will mean hundreds more flights a week going over parts of Suffolk.

The Evening Star's Air Fair campaign has been highlighting the large growth in air traffic over the county - particularly the Ipswich and Felixstowe area - over the past few years, following changes to increase the capacity of the airspace.

Is the noise from aircraft over Suffolk getting worse? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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