Stansted: Commission ‘to recommend that airport is not preferred site for expansion’ - reports

Stansted Airport. Stansted Airport.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
12:47 PM

Plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport will not form part of the Government’s future blueprint for aviation expansion, it was reported last night.

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Instead a Government-led commission, due to outline its initial thoughts on airport expansion today, is set examine in greater detail plans for a third – and possibly fourth – runway at Heathrow.

The shortlist of potential locations is set to also include proposals for a second runway at Gatwick and further work on plans for the Thames Estuary airport, championed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Brian Ross, economics adviser for Stop Stansted Expansion, said yesterday that he feared that the Airports Commission, chaired by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, had “come under pressure” from Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Johnson to “widen the shortlist” of options for extra runways at UK airports.

He said arguments for building an additional runway at Stansted, in north Essex, were “not commercially justifiable” and would be a “catastrophe” for the environment.

As well as publishing measures to ease airport congestion in the short term, the commission is set to officially reveal a shortlist of extra runway options this morning.

However, firm proposals will not be made until the commission publishes its second, and final, report in summer 2015 – after the next general election. Mr Ross admitted campaigners opposed to the expansion at Stansted Airport had faced an “anxious wait”.

“The original information we had 10 days ago from reliable sources was that we were not on the original shortlist,” he said. “But the commission has come under pressure from David Cameron and Boris Johnson to widen the shortlist to include options apart from Heathrow and Gatwick.”

Yesterday think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said airports should be able to buy the right to expand and emit more noise by paying compensation to local residents.

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said “better use” should be made of airports outside south east England.

“Whatever the options on Davies’ shortlist, all political parties must get behind the cause of airport expansion,” he added.