Airport campaigners launch High Court bid

GOVERNMENT policy to increase air travel was today criticised by campaigners - for being completely at odds with its drive to cut carbon emissions.

GOVERNMENT policy to increase air travel was today criticised by campaigners - for being completely at odds with its drive to cut carbon emissions.

With growing opposition for extra runways at Stansted and Heathrow, ministers are being urged by climate change experts to rethink their proposals.

Today supporters of Stop Stansted Expansion travel to the High Court in London for three days of hearings to try to quash the recent approval by government to allow the Essex airport to use its current runway to its maximum - an extra ten million passengers per year, a 40 per cent increase.

That would mean an extra 63 flights a day - most of them coming over Suffolk, parts of which are already plagued by jet noise.

Air management company NATS is to carry out new consultation on the proposals to change current flightpaths and stacking for Stansted later this year and is hoping to put forward an alternative route and different hold for people to consider.

Dr Rupert Read, prospective MEP for the Eastern Region Green Party, said: “We live in strange times.

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“On the one hand, the UK government states, in the strongest terms, that it fully accepts the scientific case that manmade climate change is a major threat and that it intends to substantially cut the UK's CO2 emissions.

“On the other hand, the same government is pushing ahead with plans to expand Heathrow and Stansted and also supports a raft of other airport expansions, in the full knowledge that this will increase UK CO2 emissions by millions of tonnes per year.”

SSE is challenging the government's decision on three issues - its disregard of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, economic impact, and noise from planes.

Campaign director Carol Barbone said: “If allowed to go unchallenged the government's decision could have national repercussions as well as impacts on the case against a second runway at Stansted which is due to be heard at a public inquiry currently scheduled to begin in April.”

Ministers say there is “an urgent need for additional runway capacity” and expanding Stansted will ease this.

And Nick Barton, commercial and development director for Stansted said: “Today's challenge by SSE is against Government policy, not the evidence we (BAA) gave to the G1 public inquiry

“There was nothing in the independent Inspector's report to the Government - which recommended approval for G1 - that suggests this action will succeed. In fact, SSE is saying nothing new today and is simply re-running its losing case at the public inquiry.

“As an interested party, we will play an active role in the hearing but it is ultimately for the Government to defend its decisions and policies - and we are confident the Government can defend itself very robustly.”

The number of flights in UK airspace has dropped by ten per cent because of the recession, according to latest figures.

Air management company NATS said it handled 167,322 flights in January compared with 185,885 last year.

Should airport expansion be approved? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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