Campaigners unite against airport plans

A HIGH profile pressure group says it is certain it can achieve victory in its dogged battle to prevent a second runway being built at Stansted Airport.

A HIGH profile pressure group says it is certain it can achieve victory in its dogged battle to prevent a second runway being built at Stansted Airport.

Leaders of the Stop Stansted Expansion group made a rallying call for greater public support in its fight against the Government's proposals for major expansion at the growing Essex airport at a special meeting at Sudbury town hall last night.

The group's deputy chairman Norman Meade warned that residents in large parts of both Suffolk and Essex would see the amount of jets thundering above their homes more than double in the future if the plans for a second runway are not defeated.

It called last night's meeting to offer support to scores of furious residents who have become concerned over the increasing numbers of aircraft flying over their homes since flight paths serving the airport were changed.

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In March air traffic en route to the airport was redirected away from the Dedham Vale to the north west of Ipswich and across the Box and Stour Valley's.

The new flight paths are used as an overflow for the Abbott Holding Stack - used for planes waiting to descend into the airport - which is located above Sudbury.

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Last night residents from several parishes, including Sudbury, Woodbridge, Boxford, Lavenham, Acton, Bures, Great Cornard, Great Waldingfield and Halstead in Essex attended the meeting to express their anger over the number of jets flying over their homes since the flight paths changed.

They claim the quality of their lives is being ruined by the noise of the jets, and are concerned the omissions from the planes could be a health hazard.

Mr Meade urged everybody concerned about the expansion to work together to stave off the plans.

He said if a second runway were placed at Stansted the amount of passengers using the airport would increase to up to 50 million a year.

Currently the airport caters for up to 20m passengers per annum, but has permission to increase that figure to 25m by 2006.

With 25m passengers a year using the airport the number of air traffic movements would be about 241,000 per annum.

Mr Meade claims the number of planes landing or taking-off from the airport would grow to over 500,000 a year, once the airport caters for a 50m customers, a third of which would fly over the skies if Suffolk.

Group chairman Peter Sanders dismissed the theory that the Government could not be forced to back down from the proposals and said SSE was fighting the plans on financial, planning and environmental grounds.

"More and more people are now coming to realise the impact another runway at Stansted will have on their lives.

"It is not a forgone conclusion and we firmly believe we can stop this," he said. "We are constantly and actively keeping up the pressure all the time and we believe we have the British Airports Authority on run over certain issues.

"We are lobbying ministers, MPs and MEPs and they are taking our fears very seriously. If we all fight together we can stop this expansion and the environmental devastation it will cause."

Meanwhile, the newly formed South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group (SSATAG) has urged people in Suffolk to join its campaign against the increased air traffic.

During last night's meeting chairman of the new group Alan Line, said: "We have set up this working group and we want to get as many local people behind us, so we can then help our colleagues at the SSE.

"We need to bring out the issues facing all of us, and we have grave concerns about the environment and the sustainability of the expansion plans. If we stick together we can make a difference."

The group is now urging residents to attend its first meeting being held at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club, at 7.30pm, next Tuesday.

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