Outrage after calls for Stansted inquiry delay

CAMPAIGNERS have condemned as “outrageous and wholly unacceptable” proposals to delay a decision on a second runway at Stansted for up to five years.

CAMPAIGNERS have condemned as “outrageous and wholly unacceptable” proposals to delay a decision on a second runway at Stansted for up to five years.

A public inquiry was due to have started this spring but now owners BAA want it put on hold until its appeal against government plans to make it sell the Essex airport is decided.

A second runway at Stansted could spell disaster for many Suffolk communities - sending tens of thousands more jets over the county every year in addition to current expansion proposals.

Campaigners say the planes are ruining the county's peace and tranquillity and it is unfair to leave the prospect of more noise and increased use of flightpaths hanging over towns and villages.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said BAA's request to Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, was “outrageous and wholly unacceptable”.

Waiting for the outcome of the appeal against the sale, time for a sale to be completed if the appeal fails, the inquiry, inspector's report and minister's decision, could mean it will be the end of 2014 before an outcome on the second runway is known.

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SSE campaign director Carol Barbone said it was now almost seven years since the spectre of major expansion of Stansted was raised by government and it was unacceptable to add another five years of blight and uncertainty to communities.

She said BAA should either proceed with its planning application now or withdraw it altogether.

“BAA is trying to have its cake and eat it,” said Mrs Barbone.

“The actions of Stansted's owners demonstrate a callous disregard for this community and a mindset focused only on protecting BAA's commercial interests.”

A BAA spokesman said: “The timing of the G2 planning inquiry is a matter for the secretary of state, but it is obvious that the status of the competition process, in particular our appeal, is a significant factor.

“We do not plan to withdraw the planning application, and will continue to engage with local communities as the process develops.”

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