Stansted passengers predicted to double

NEW figures say the number of passengers using Stansted every year will double in the next decade.But the forecasts rely both on the airport being allowed to smash through its current 25 million passengers a year limit and build a second runway.

By Richard Cornwell

NEW figures say the number of passengers using Stansted every year will double in the next decade.

But the forecasts rely both on the airport being allowed to smash through its current 25 million passengers a year limit and build a second runway.

Today campaigners pledged to carry on fighting to prevent expansion of the airport, and also to stop a third runway at Heathrow.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is warning Stansted's owners BAA, owned by Spanish company Ferrovial, not to put in a “speculative application” for a second runway at Stansted - but only press ahead if they fully intend to build it.

Extra runways at Stansted and Heathrow will mean thousands of additional jets flying over Suffolk every year.

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That will mean more noise, pollution and loss of blue skies with contrails creating artificial clouds and blotting out the sun.

Carol Barbone, campaign director for SSE, said: “Whatever the government's view on the likelihood of securing additional runways in the south east, or BAA's real expectations, we can't afford to be complacent, so it's full steam ahead on the campaigning front.

“One of the main purposes of the 2003 Air Transport White Paper was to bring an end to uncertainty which blighted people's homes and their lives.

“If BAA now recognises that developing a second runway at Stansted in the foreseeable future is no longer a viable or realistic prospect then it should say so - and the sooner the better.

“What BAA must not do is to submit a planning application and seek approval for a second runway purely on a speculative basis.

“This would only serve to prolong the uncertainty for the community for many years to come.”

SSE is asking BAA afresh about its intentions for a second runway because the company's owners have debts and borrowing of £17 billion and there is concern over whether it could afford to finance the construction.

Government also appears to now be focussing on Heathrow. While transport secretary Ruth Kelly says Stansted's expansion has not been scrapped, it no longer appears top priority.

BAA though says it has plans for £9.3bn investment at Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick to cut congestion.

At Stansted this will include £600m to make maximum use of the current runway and £1.4bn for the second runway. Traffic will grow from 23m passengers this year to 45m by 2017.

A spokesman said: “Nothing has changed. Government plans are still for the first new runway in the UK to be at Stansted. Our plans have involved four years' work and we expect to submit our application at the turn of the year. We are very confident in our plans for a new runway in 2015.”

Do you think air travel should be curbed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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ANTI-aviation campaigners say it is not a case of Heathrow instead of Stansted.

A plane lands or takes off from Heathrow every 45 seconds and a third runway would increase this - with critics saying 50 communities near to the airport would be blighted by noise, and hundreds more further away, including Suffolk.

“It has never been SSE's policy to advocate expansion at Heathrow as an alternative to Stansted and whilst our main focus is upon opposing unsustainable development at Stansted, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities around Heathrow in opposing the unsustainable development of aviation,” said Stop Stansted Expansion campaign director Carol Barbone.

“The climate change impact of air travel is of such magnitude that the growth in air travel must be curbed on these grounds alone until there is an effective solution to control and contain aviation emissions.”

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