'We can stop Stansted runway plan'

CAMPAIGNERS were today confident they could defeat proposals for a second runway at Stansted.

Richard Cornwell

CAMPAIGNERS were today confident they could defeat proposals for a second runway at Stansted.

The project - which transport secretary Ruth Kelly has ruled will go to a public inquiry next year - would increase the size of the Essex airport to that of Heathrow and send tens of thousands more planes over Suffolk ever year.

Protest group Stop Stansted Expansion said it was confident the plans will be soundly defeated - just as two previous inquiries and a Royal Commission in the past 40 years have all ruled out additional runways on environmental grounds.

In addition, when the new terminal was approved in the mid-1980s government “unreservedly” accepted the recommendation of the independent inspector there should never be a second runway at Stansted.

SSE is angry ministers have decided on an inquiry before announcing a decision on the earlier inquiry into whether the airport should be allowed to handle another ten million passengers a year.

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Campaign director Carol Barbone said: “It beggars belief that the Government has decided to move the process forward on BAA's second planning application before it has even decided BAA's first application - all the more so because BAA's application for a second runway assumes permission for its earlier application has been approved. The government is now proceeding on the same basis.

“While Stop Stansted Expansion will again present evidence to the public inquiry, largely focusing on the technical detail of the application, it is the individual responses from members of the public which will best describe the madness of the proposal to make Stansted bigger than today's Heathrow and indeed bigger than any other airport in Europe.

The inquiry is expected to start early 2009 and take around 12 months, with a final decision unlikely before 2011.

Roger Pellman, BAA G2 (second runway) project director, said: “There are huge social and economic benefits to be enjoyed from the development of a second runway at Stansted for the East of England, London and for UKplc, and we are fully committed to maximising these opportunities for millions of air travellers while at the same time doing all we can to limit, avoid and mitigate against any environmental impacts.”