Airport expansion fears in Suffolk

QUALITY of life in an idyllic rural borough could be damaged forever if the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport is given the green light.The stark warning came yesterday from members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council who are preparing to object to Government plans to increase runway capacity at the Essex airport to cater for predicted growth air traffic.

QUALITY of life in an idyllic rural borough could be damaged forever if the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport is given the green light.

The stark warning came yesterday from members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council who are preparing to object to Government plans to increase runway capacity at the Essex airport to cater for predicted growth air traffic.

Representatives sitting on the council cited the environmental impact of the proposals as their main concern, accusing the authorities of favourably “smoothing” figures on increased noise levels.

Councillors also said East Anglia's existing transport infrastructure is incapable of handling the escalating numbers of vehicles which would travel to and from the expanded facility every year.


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“We have examined the evidence presented to us, and we do not feel that there is a case to answer for a second runway,” said Jeremy Farthing, council portfolio holder for the environment.

“Any expansion would see low-flying jets stacking over the Suffolk countryside waiting to land at the airport - something which will certainly have an effect on life in the south of the borough.

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“And although the expansion plans would have no visible impact on St Edmundsbury, the Government figures for noise levels have been smoothed - they show an average ambient noise level which is disingenuous.

“The issue of pollution is also of importance - especially as airlines are the least regulated business in the world, and are unaccountable to anyone.”

Currently, 78% of aircraft arriving at Stansted approach the airport from the north-east, travelling over towns at the southern end of the borough, such as Haverhill.

Mr Farthing said the effect of any increase in runway capacity, and the subsequent rise in aircraft movements, would result in more jets using this approach - leading to deterioration in quality of life outweighing any economic benefits the expansion may bring.

“Only 1.8% of Stansted's staff live in the borough of St Edmundsbury, so the jobs created by any additional runways do not represent a stratospheric increase in the number of jobs and benefits to the borough,” he added.

“And as the existing runway is not currently being used to its full capacity, the concept of asking to build additional runways does not seem to make any sense.”

Council leader John Griffiths said: “The general expansion of Stansted is to be welcomed, but this expansion can be done using the existing runway,” he said.

“One of the major fears is that this part of the world has the right infrastructure to support an expansion - on top of that would come the additional noise and environmental considerations.”

The council will discuss the possible expansion during a cabinet meeting next Wednesday.

Its views, collected as part of a region-wide consultation regarding the plans, are due by June 30.

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