Fresh support for airport campaigners

By James HoreA BUSINESSMAN behind plans for a new airport has given his support to the campaign to stop the expansion of Stansted.Former Essex county councillor Michael Stephen is the chairman of a consortium proposing a £2.

By James Hore

A BUSINESSMAN behind plans for a new airport has given his support to the campaign to stop the expansion of Stansted.

Former Essex county councillor Michael Stephen is the chairman of a consortium proposing a £2.4billion development on a man-made island near Newport in south Wales.

He said the planned Severnside Intercontinental Airport would cut the need for people living in the west to travel to London and Stansted for flights - reducing the pressure on the region's overcrowded roads.


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But campaigners fighting proposals for up to three extra runways at Stansted Airport said the Severnside plan was unlikely to help their cause.

Mr Stephen, who lives in Wormingford, near Colchester, said the proposals in the west of the country would not have such a dramatic environmental impact.

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He added: “It is no use playing King Cnut because the Government has decided after many years of study that it has got to make additional airport capacity available in the South and it is not a question of whether, it is a question of where.

“With this proposal there would be no need to demolish houses or churches and there would be no need to take a single acre of land because the terminal would be on a derelict industrial site.”

Mr Stephen said there was a strong argument against more expansion in the South-East - including the proposals for the Thames estuary - because of the busy roads and overcrowded skies.

“My fear is that unless there is a concerted effort by protest groups, BAA will win and the Government give them the go-ahead to expand at Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow,” he added.

Last night, a spokesman for the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign said the plans for the airport would not satisfy the demand for flights from London.

“We have submitted plans to the Government which stated that if there must be expansion, then the logical place would be off-shore,” he added.

“Severnside is a long way from London and if the requirement is capacity to serve the capital it has to be the Thames Estuary.

“We have nothing against the proposals in the Bristol Channel, but it is a long way from London.”

The Government is considering building up to three new runways at Stansted to cater for the growing demand for air travel in Britain. It is set to make its announcement on the future of air travel within the next three months.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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