New protest at Stansted

ANTI-Stansted expansion protesters and pro-flying campaigners were at loggerheads today amid claims that some airport workers are against the growth of air travel.

ANTI-Stansted expansion protesters and pro-flying campaigners were at loggerheads today amid claims that some airport workers are against the growth of air travel.

Union officials said they picketed the public inquiry into the proposed growth of the airport to safeguard jobs.

But the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said many of the staff at the airport feared too much expansion and the explosion of cheap flights could threaten their jobs and quality of life.

Members of Unite held their protest to coincide with Tory MP Sir Alan Haselhurst's giving evidence against the plans to use the airport's current runway to its maximum capacity - another ten million passengers a year.

Union regional industrial organiser Maureen Byrne said downplaying the airport as a base for “cheap booze and sex flights” would deny thousands the right to travel and also threaten job security of thousands of airport workers.

Ms Byrne said expansion was an economic must but that the needs of the environment must also be taken into account.

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“We are not blind to the issue of aviation emissions in airport expansion,” she said.

“We actively support the emissions trading scheme as a reflection of our obligation to reduce the impact of the civil aviation industry on the environment.”

But campaigners said the inquiry is not considering closure or contraction of Stansted but the question of whether it should be permitted to expand to become the UK's second largest airport, after Heathrow.

SSE economics advisor Brian Ross said: “We're scratching our heads to understand what this protest is all about. Many of SSE's supporters are airport employees who feel that enough is enough and that excessive expansion could threaten their future job security - not to mention their quality of life.

“And they tell us that they have not been consulted or balloted about this protest, although it is purported to be in their name.

“The airport is a valuable local employer but we shouldn't have too many eggs in one basket.

“We owe it to tomorrow's generation to create new job opportunities.”

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 there are too many planes flying over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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