Inquiry delay boosts runway campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS are today hoping delays to the public inquiry into a second runway at Stansted will mean the project being axed.

CAMPAIGNERS are today hoping delays to the public inquiry into a second runway at Stansted will mean the project being axed.

The runway will almost double the amount of passengers using the airport - sending tens of thousands more planes across Suffolk every year.

If it was to be approved, it would mean further changes to flightpaths and holding stacks - in addition to what is currently proposed - to accommodate all the extra air traffic above the county's towns and villages.

The inquiry was due to start on April 15 but Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, said she had decided to delay an announcement on when it would now begin until after the Competition Commissioner reports on March 28.

The commission is proposing that BAA sell Stansted.

Mrs Blears said she would make a decision on the inquiry by the end of April but it is now unlikely to begin until the summer at the earliest.

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Last month BAA said it had delayed construction of the second runway by two years to 2017.

If there is a general election before the result of the year-long inquiry is concluded and the Conservatives win, the runway project will be scrapped.

Responding to the inquiry delay, a BAA Stansted spokesman said: “We note the decision by government to temporarily defer the start of the Stansted G2 planning inquiry.

“As the Competition Commission's market investigation concludes in March, we recognise that the secretary of state has decided that deferring the inquiry may be the best way of preventing long term damage to the process of delivering this important infrastructure development project.”

Mrs Blears said she did not want to “second guess” the outcome of the Competition Commission's report or BAA's response.

“I do not consider than an inquiry start date so soon after publication will allow sufficient time for the airport operator to consider its findings fully, including any possible implications for the inquiry,” she said.

“It is clear to me that this is the right way forward at this time. I accept that this will mean a period of uncertainty for all interested parties.”

Is a second runway needed at Stansted? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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