Fight to halt Stansted expansion hots up

POLITICAL leaders and campaign groups vowed to “fight to the last breath” last night to stop expansion plans at Stansted Airport.

Annie Davidson

POLITICAL leaders and campaign groups vowed to “fight to the last breath” last night to stop expansion plans at Stansted Airport.

A rally held by the Stop Stansted Expanion (SSE) campaign group, and attended by high profile figures from across the East of England, took place in Bishops Stortford.

Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield, Labour peer Baroness McIntosh, Greenpeace, the National Trust and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England were among those at the event.

After the rally, Lord Hanningfield told the EADT: “There were lots of people there and varied speakers from different political parties and we were all totally united in opposition to the idea of a second runway.

“There is no economic argument for it and every environmental issue is against it and we will fight with every last bit of breath to stop it.”

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The event aimed to bring together all those against the plans for a second terminal and runway at the Essex airport - the plans for which were officially submitted last month.

Airport owners BAA officially handed in its planning application to Uttlesford District Council to double the size of Stansted.

If approved, the £2.5 billion development would open in 2015 and serve 68 million passengers a year by around 2030.

BAA say the project would create more than 13,000 jobs by 2030 and boost the UK economy by £9 billion a year.

But in the wake of the proposals, the CO2 group - Councils Opposing a 2nd Runway - which includes Essex and Suffolk county councils, has called on the Government to completely rethink its aviation strategy.

SSE spokeswoman Carol Barbone said: “If BAA's plans for a second runway at Stansted were to be approved it would be the UK's biggest airport development project since the Second World War.

“Over a thousand acres of unspoilt countryside and ancient woodlands would be bulldozed, cutting a swathe through the heritage-rich villages of Molehill Green and Broxted, but the effects of BAA's proposals would be felt across the region and beyond.”

Suffolk South MP Tim Yeo, Colchester MP Bob Russell, Tory shadow aviation minister Julian Brazier, East of England Conservative MEP Christopher Beazley and Liberal Democrats transport spokesman Norman Baker all sent messages of support to the rally but were unable to attend.

BAA declined to comment on the rally.

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