Stansted passenger claims rubbished

AIR campaigners had one last dog fight with airport bosses as the public inquiry into proposals to expand Stansted finally closed.

AIR campaigners had one last dog fight with airport bosses as the public inquiry into proposals to expand Stansted finally closed.

Five months of debate came to an end yesterdaywith opponents claiming airport owners BAA had been “wholly unconvincing” in their bid to increase passenger numbers by ten million a year.

But Spanish-owned BAA's legal team said there would be substantial economic and social benefits if the proposed development is given the go-ahead, including 3,800 new jobs and tens of millions of pounds generated for the area's economy.

Stansted handles more than 23.9million passengers a year and expects to reach its current permitted limit of 25m next year.

Opponents say increasing the limit to 35m will mean thousands more flights over Suffolk, creating more noise and pollution.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) chairman Peter Sanders said “In essence, BAA has been wholly unconvincing in its efforts to persuade the inquiry that its proposed development would have no material effects on the community or the environment.

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“Nor has BAA been able to provide a shred of evidence that expanding Stansted beyond its present limit of 25m passengers would deliver any net economic benefits.”

SSE presented detailed economic evidence which showed BAA's plans were predominantly based on catering for more low-cost short-haul leisure flights and would have a negative impact on the UK economy.

Nick Barton, Stansted's business development and planning director, said: “While we are not in the business of pre-judging the outcome of the independent inquiry, we know that success would bring benefits to those many millions of people who want to travel around the world on business and leisure trips. What is more, in the past five months we have demonstrated very clearly we can deliver that success in a sustainable and responsible way.”

Inquiry inspector Alan Boyland is due to submit his report by Christmas, but an announcement by the government is not expected until well into the new year.

n Do you think more planes should be allowed to fly 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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