Bishop backs Stansted campaigners

THE Bishop of Colchester has announced he is backing the campaign against a second runway at Stansted Airport.

THE Bishop of Colchester has announced he is backing the campaign against a second runway at Stansted Airport.

And the Right Reverend Christopher Morgan said he believed the Government should remove the aviation industry's exemption from fuel tax and plough the cash raised into roads and railways.

Last week the airport was given permission to use its existing runway at increased capacity, allowing an extra 10 million passengers per year.

But BAA, which owns the airport, still has ambitions to build a second runway on the site which would vastly increase the number of flights it could operate.

However, speaking at an Eco-congregational conference in Chelmsford Cathedral's chapter house, Bishop Christopher said that although the case for expansion was weakening, campaigners still had to be vigilant.

“At the beginning of this decade, Stansted was handling 12 million passengers a year - by 2004, this had risen to more than 19 million, and now it is in excess of 25 million.”

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Bishop Christopher, who is chairman of the Diocese of Chelmsford's environmental committee, said: “For every litre of petrol for cars the Government takes at least 47p - it takes nothing for air fuel.

“A levelling of the playing field in this regard might lead both to some realistically increased funding for our struggling rail and road networks and also to a helpful reduction in the escalating number of air travellers.

“This trend would be valuable for a deeper and more serious reason.

“The evidence is stacking up that a steeply increasing rate of air traffic is simply bad for the environment.”

He told the conference: “We are in this world not as owners but as stewards - the good lord asks us to hand it on to our successors enhanced, not degraded.”

Yesterday a spokesman for Stansted Airport said: “Everybody has their view on this issue and that is exactly why it will go before a public enquiry, so everybody can make their submission for consideration by an independent inspector.

“Climate change in aviation is an issue but we also believe that, in terms of the whole economy, some sectors can reduce their carbon emissions other sectors can increase them if the benefits are greater than the impacts. This is a matter for Parliament to decide.”

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