Inquiry takes to the road

FOCUS of the public inquiry into the expansion of Stansted today switched from the air to the ground - with a dispute over the impact on rail and road.

FOCUS of the public inquiry into the expansion of Stansted today switched from the air to the ground - with a dispute over the impact on rail and road.

Forecasts say allowing ten million more passengers, plus extra employees, could mean 50 per cent more people using cars and trains to travel to and from the airport.

While airport owners BAA are proposing some improvements to rail, coaches and encouraging workers to use public transport, there is great concern over the impact on the roads with car ownership increasing.

BAA has put forward £1billion worth of improvements to road and rail network - which would include adding more lanes to the M11 between the M25 and the Stansted junction - but these will have to wait until a second runway is built.

The inquiry into the first phase of expansion of the airport will spend the next two weeks looking at transport issues.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said it believed BAA's forecasts understate the impacts on the road and rail network and is concerned at the inadequacy of its proposed mitigation.

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Transport expert Reg Harman, for SSE, said BAA's forecasts pointed to “a continuation of very significant growth” in transport to the site and would be “very damaging” to the area's economy.

He said: “Even if growth in air passenger throughput remains limited to 25 million passengers a year, this will add to serious current pressures.

“If permission is granted for removal of the 25m limit, then the key roads and the rail line will quite rapidly become even more heavily affected by airport related traffic, resulting in serious congestion, increased occurrences of delays and generally worsening quality.”

BAA says on an average day, there could be 2,500 more people on the Stansted Express train; 6,350 on bus, coach and other rail services; and 6,200 vehicles on roads.

It is planning to improve bus and coach services and add extra coaches to the Stansted Express.

The Evening Star's No More Stansted campaign agrees with and supports the airport at its current flight and passenger limits - but is against expansion which will have an intolerable impact on the quality of life of people in Suffolk, possibly in the long-term doubling the amount of planes flying over the county.

Do you think Stansted should expand? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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