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Stansted Airport lowers growth target following public consultation on expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 15:43 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:48 17 October 2017

The main terminal at Stansted Airport.
Picture: Stansted Airport

The main terminal at Stansted Airport. Picture: Stansted Airport

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Stansted Airport has scaled-back its expansion plans with a pledge to achieve is growth ambitions without seeking any increase in the number of flights it is allowed to handle.

Ken O'Toole, chief executive at Stansted Airport.
Picture: Tony PickKen O'Toole, chief executive at Stansted Airport. Picture: Tony Pick

In a move designed to address concerns raised by local residents during a consultation, Stansted says it will now apply for its annual passenger cap to be raised from the current 35m passengers a year to 43m, rather than 44.5m as originally proposed.

The airport, part of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), says the new figure can be achieved without increasing either the number of aircraft movements or the size of the airport’s approved noise “footprint” already authorised under the current capping arrangements.

Passenger numbers at Stansted have already increased by nearly 10m over the past five years to a current annual total of more than 25.6m and MAG is seeking to raise the 35m cap in order to make fuller use of existing runway capacity at Stansted in the decade, or more, before an additional runway is built at Heathrow.

Ken O’Toole, chief executive at Stansted Airport, said: “The feedback we received from our neighbours during our extensive consultation was clear – that they support the ongoing growth and investment in the airport and welcome a further increase in destinations and choice.

Stansted Airport.
Picture: Stansted AirportStansted Airport. Picture: Stansted Airport

“Local residents also told us that they were concerned about the proposal to increase the number of flights that the airport is permitted to operate each year. We’ve listened to those concerns and decided to adapt our proposals so growth can be met within the current cap on the number of aircraft movements.”

“That means the airport’s growth over the next 10 years to serve 43m passengers can be achieved without increasing the existing limits on aircraft movements and noise. We think that this is good news for local residents.”

He added: “This is an example of community consultation in action – we talked about our plans, we listened and we have amended our proposals accordingly. These plans provide a good balance between ensuring our future growth, support for the region’s economy and addressing concerns around local environmental impacts. With clarity over the airport’s ability to grow, airlines and business partners will have the confidence to continue to invest and grow at Stansted.”

However, a spokesman for the Stop Stansted Expansion group, said: “People shouldn’t be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s spin doctors. The new planning application would still mean an extra 1,800 flights a week compared to today’s levels.”

Stansted Airport says it has advised Uttlesford District Council of the change in its proposals and will now conduct further feedback sessions during November, ahead of submitting a final planning application early in 2018.

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