Why Stansted should not grow

The Protester's case by CAROL BARBONE of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign

The Protester's case by CAROL BARBONE of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign

FOR years, Stansted deserved its reputation as 'the airport in the countryside'. It was relatively unobtrusive, an important provider of jobs and offered convenience for local travellers.

That is no longer the case. From handling 3.9m passengers just ten years ago, Stansted will handle 24m passengers this year as the UK's third busiest airport.

Approval of BAA's planning appeal could mean Stansted's single runway handling 45m - 50m passengers a year in the future - not to mention the additional burden that would be created by proposals for a second runway.

This wouldn't just mean more airport related development, urbanisation and traffic congestion. It would also mean more aircraft and more noise across a wide swathe of East Anglia.

BAA's argues that airport expansion is vital for jobs but already cannot find enough people locally and increasingly is forced to recruit from further afield.

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Nor can the expansion be justified on the basis of value to the nation.

Stansted no longer brings net economic benefits either to the local, regional or national economy. Five out of six passengers using Stansted Airport are leisure travellers - people coming from all over the UK for cheap flights abroad.

In 2005 the UK had an £18.8bn trade deficit on air travel compared to just £2bn ten years earlier.

Last but not least is the contribution which Stansted's expansion would have to the growing problem of climate change.

If BAA's plans were approved, Stansted's annual emissions of carbon dioxide would increase from the equivalent of 5m to 7m tonnes at a time when we are all being asked to reduce our carbon consumption.

In our view there is only one conclusion at Public Inquiry that can be reached if the interests of today's - and tomorrow's - community are to be properly served.

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