Airport future open to question

GOVERNMENT is today coming under increasing pressure to put major airport expansion proposals on hold.

GOVERNMENT is today coming under increasing pressure to put major airport expansion proposals on hold.

As concern continues to grow in Suffolk over the number of jets which will overfly the county every day in the years ahead, a government watchdog says ministers must review their own policy.

Environmental body the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) says the risks of decisions in favour of expanding air travel outweigh the possible benefits - particularly because of the impact of jet planes' emissions on climate change.

Ministers want air travel to double by the year 2030 and proposals have been put forward to use Stansted airport to its maximum and then build another runway, making it as big as Heathrow today.

That would send thousands more airliners over Suffolk ever year, increasing the noise already suffered by those living under flightpaths or holding stacks.

In its report Contested Evidence: The case for an independent review of aviation policy, SDC says the government drew up its policy five years ago when times were different.

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Climate change science has moved forward significantly, aviation emission levels may need to be cut dramatically, and “the economic downturn and soaring fuel prices have hit the number of business and leisure flights, and public attitudes to flying are more ambivalent.”

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) strongly welcomed the call for airport expansion to be put on hold.

Campaign director Carol Barbone said: “The government is becoming ever more isolated in clinging to the airport expansion plans set down in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper.

“This was written in an era when oil was $25 a barrel, when Stansted was growing at 20 per cent a year. The world has changed dramatically since then and government policy must also change.”

Airport owners BAA though maintain there are “huge social and economic benefits” to be gained from a second runway at Stansted for the region and country.

Should air travel be increased - is there really a demand? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail