Chef Jamie calls for offshore airport

CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has called for the Government to consider creating an airport out at sea instead of the massive expansion plans at Stansted Airport.

CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has called for the Government to consider creating an airport out at sea instead of the massive expansion plans at Stansted Airport.

A letter of support was read out by the chef's mother Sally who runs the The Cricketers pub in Clavering with her husband Trevor, at a conference yesterday attended by 200 people at the airport's Hilton Hotel,

Mrs Oliver rallied grass roots support at the conference which was held to discuss the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign's approach to renewed consultation on the expansion issue.

Campaigners claim the government has "grossly underestimated" noise levels from a new terminal and extra runways which already affect an area which includes Haverhill, East Bergholt, the Dedham Vale as well as Nayland and further out to the east coast.

In his message Mr Oliver said: "Living near Stansted Airport we expect our fair share of noise but on this scale it just is not fair to the people of this area and nor would it be fair to the people of any area.

"If the Government is still determined to go ahead – then an off-shore air port must be considered.

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Something really cutting edge where aircraft take off and land on runways out at sea – so that aircraft noise and pollution is kept well away from inhabited and environmentally sensitive areas."

No details about where an off shore airport could be located have been presented yet.

Speaking after the conference - which was attended by Commons Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, Mark Prisk, the Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford, - Mrs Oliver added people across the region were in danger of seeing massive urbanization because of growth at the airport.

She said: "We are all anxious about the changes we could be seeing and I hope we can try and do something to stop the development. If we are unsuccessful in our efforts - at least we can say we have tried and I will be able to look my grandchildren in the eyes in the years to come.

"Lots of people don't realize that three quarters of a million people will be affected by the noise blight and the changes would completely destroy the character of the area and we are talking about places as far away as Bury St Edmunds."

The campaign's Noise Working Group fears that the Government's forecasts for noise are, in reality, far lower than the effects currently experienced by a broad swathe of the population across Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The group wants information from the Government about the basis on which it calculated the numbers and locations of those who could be affected by the expansion of capacity at the airport, as set out in the first round of consultation.

The assumptions used will have covered, among other things, information about aircraft types, flight routes, take off and landing paths, but no detail has yet been received, despite requests from the campaigners to the Department of Transport.

The true extent of the existing noise problem was revealed in the campaign group's formal response to the consultation issued last month, which included an analysis of Stansted Airport's own flight evaluation unit logs between the period April to September 2002.

They show that forecast areas of disturbance are much smaller than the actual areas that are already suffering from noise disturbance. Analysis of the logs showed significant numbers of complaints across a 60x10 mile area with the airport at its heart.

There is a core concentration in the area between Braintree in the east, Hertford in the west and from Haverhill and Saffron Walden in the north down to Epping and Cheshunt in the south.

Complaints from outside the core area also included calls from East Bergholt in relation to Dedham Vale - a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as Nayland and Roydon, then further out to the east coast across Constable country.

Norman Meade, said: "There is unabated anger and concern. The scale of anger is unprecedented among the tens of thousands who live around the airport who were represented by people here today.

"When we can see from the current picture that people are being disturbed so badly already, it is completely unjustifiable to claim that up to three additional runways and five times as many aircraft movements won't significantly affect noise levels across the region.

"In fact, so great is the disturbance likely to be caused by an airport serving 129million people per year instead of the current 15million, that we should expect to see a marked deterioration in health, particularly amongst the more vulnerable such as children and the elderly.

"Even safety could be compromised as people's ability to concentrate is diminished as a result of poor and broken sleep and fewer periods of respite from airport and aircraft noise during the day.

Campaigns director, Carol Barbone said the event was a chance to discuss the best way to "translate" opposition to airport expansion plans into successful campaign activity.

Anyone wishing to register a complaint about noise from the airport or planes, can do so by calling the freephone line 0800 243 788 with details of time, date, location and nature of the problem.

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