Move to lead to Suffolk air traffic rise

A LIMIT on flights to and from Stansted Airport could be abolished - paving the way for an extra 56,000 take-offs and landings per year, it emerged today.

A LIMIT on flights to and from Stansted Airport could be abolished - paving the way for an extra 56,000 take-offs and landings per year, it emerged today.

The move, if approved will mean a big increase in air traffic in the sky over Suffolk.

The current Parliament-approved limit for aeroplane movements stands at 185,000 per year, even though Uttlesford District Council has effectively granted planning permission for up to 241,000.

But if the Government abandons its legal requirement to "cap" the number of annual flights BAA will be able to expand its services accordingly, subject to the conditions of its planning consent.

Interested parties, including local councils, are now to be consulted about removing the Government limit.

Under plans outlined in the Government's aviation White Paper published in December 2003, a new runway is envisaged at Stansted by 2011.

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Aviation minister Tony McNulty said yesterday: "The White Paper set out our reasons for proposing to remove the limit.

"Stansted is unique among UK airports in having a passenger aircraft transport movement limit imposed and regulated by Parliamentary approval.

"We believe that it is preferable for controls of this kind to be agreed locally and that there is no longer a good case for the use of the statutory limit in respect of Stansted."

A spokeswoman for the airport said that an increase in the number of flights was subject to a number of planning conditions already negotiated with the local council.

An increase in flights could put pressure on a new stack in Suffolk, which acts as an overflow site for the main holding point above the Sudbury area and is two miles east of Claydon.

The flightpath, which runs north of Ipswich, was drawn up after campaigners won their five-year battle to move it away from its route across the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Aviation experts predicted that the planes coming in from the North Sea would end up travelling over places such as Framlingham, Grundisburgh, Claydon and Debenham as they headed for the stacks before going on to the airport.

Clive Crane, Mid Suffolk district councillor for Claydon and Barham, said: "A 25 per cent increase in air traffic could be flying over our district roughly over the area I represent but planes fly across mid Suffolk in a line.

"It hasn't had a huge impact at the moment but there could be more on the skyline, quite literally."

But Bob Feltwell, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said the county's business community would welcome the end of the restrictions providing it enables more flights to business destinations to be created.

He said: "Anything that enables Suffolk businesses to use Stansted instead of Gatwick or Heathrow is good. We always hope that international trade and links develop and we hope that tourism is incoming, as well as people going abroad."

N What do you think about an increase in air traffic? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to or visit the forum at

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