New Stansted battle looms

AIRPORT bosses today announced full details of the £1.4 billion project to create a second runway at Stansted - which will send thousands more planes over Suffolk.

AIRPORT bosses today announced full details of the £1.4 billion project to create a second runway at Stansted - which will send thousands more planes over Suffolk.

BAA has submitted its planning application for the development to Uttlesford District Council, but the project is expected to have to go before a public inquiry and a decision is not expected until 2010 at the earliest.

Details of the project were by Alastair McDermid, director of the G2 (second runway) scheme, and BAA managing director Stewart Wingate at a special meeting at the airport.

A second runway will mean Stansted will be able to handle around 68 million passengers a year by 2030 - the same as Heathrow, which is applying for a third runway, currently can.

Proposals were put forward last month for changes to the airspace to alter the routes of some inbound flights to Stansted which currently come in over Suffolk, but if the airport expands these will have to be revised again to cater for the hundreds of thousands of extra flights a year.

The airport expansion will involve building a new 3,048 metre-long runway, 2,200 metres to the south-east of the existing one, with one to be used for landings and the other for take-offs.

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The development will cost £1.4bn when it opens in 2015, but further phases of expansion up to 2030 will take the overall cost to £2.27bn - less than the original government estimate of £4 billion.

Officials at Stansted say the G2 project is consistent with the government's policy on airports and climate change and has been designed to produce environmental improvements.

Campaigners at Stop Stansted Expansion - currently fighting proposals to remove the limit on passenger numbers for the current runway to allow another ten million on up to 264,000 flights - will fight the proposals.

It says the announcement of the second runway is “a speculative exercise rather than a genuine signal of BAA's intent” and believes the company's debts would not permit it to finance the project.

It is also deeply concerned about the impact of the massive road and rail problems more than a million people a week flying from the airport would create.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “A second runway is no closer to implementation today than it was when the Air Transport White Paper appeared in late 2003.

“Today, BAA acknowledges that the earliest possible completion date is seven years off at 2015 subject, of course, to planning permission which will - at the very least - be problematic in view of overwhelming opposition from almost all quarters including its own customers.”

Should a second runway be built at Stansted? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Leader:

BUILDING a second runway at Stansted will inevitably mean one thing - a huge increase in noisy jets flying over Suffolk.

The Evening Star's Air Fair campaign says that cannot be tolerated.

We believe Stansted should be a vibrant, busy airport, a vital contributor to the economy of this region - and its current flight and passenger limits are enough.

The airport should not be allowed to grow without good reason.

Government says air traffic will double in less than 25 years but the industry should not get caught up in a spiral of “we must grow because Whitehall says so” - growth fuelling growth, but with no real benefits.

The air industry is being driven by cheap flights to nowhere places most people would not choose to go, and which many experts say cannot be sustained.

Then there are flights which should not be permitted anyway.

Eastern Airways is introducing extra flights from Stansted to Manchester next month, which is ridiculous when there are excellent rail links between London and Manchester which should be encouraged without clogging up our skies with more air traffic.

The same is true of many European destinations which can now be reached by high-speed trains.

Our biggest concern though must be Suffolk's peace and rural tranquillity.

NATS is currently consulting on changes to flightpaths and holding stacks - and proposals for a new stack in the Needham Market area is already generating concern - and bosses have already admitted that if another runway is built we will have to go through the whole process again because of the huge increase in flights which would need to be accommodated.

Suffolk is the gateway to Europe for these jets and more and more areas would be overflown, possibly lower, bringing more noise, contrails blotting out blue skies, and the worry over pollution.

The government should urgently review its air policy - and seriously question whether Stansted needs a second runway. We believe the answer is no.

FASTFACTS: Air Fair

Our Air Fair campaign agrees with and supports Stansted Airport at its current flight and passenger limits.

But the campaign is against expansion of the airport which will have an intolerable impact on the quality of life of people in Suffolk.

It is against proposals being discussed currently at a public inquiry to increase the number of passengers by ten million a year on around 70,000 extra flights.

It is against the building of a second runway which would more than double the current flights - possibly 300,000 a year.

The campaign wants a full review of the pollution being caused by the jets - both the impact on ozone layer and also on the environment at ground level - and of the increasing noise being caused by the aircraft 24/7.

We want assurances that planes will not be allowed to fly lower than the present lowest levels across Suffolk.

Flightpaths must be changed to cut the noise afflicting communities and to look at the possibility of moving flight corridors on a regular basis so that the same communities do not suffer noise nuisance incessantly.

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