Government 'dithering' over Stansted

CAMPAIGNERS have accused the Government of “dithering” over the future of Stansted Airport after an imminent decision about its expansion was delayed.Stansted currently has two separate proposals for expansion in the pipeline.

Roddy Ashworth

CAMPAIGNERS have accused the Government of “dithering” over the future of Stansted Airport after an imminent decision about its expansion was delayed.

Stansted currently has two separate proposals for expansion in the pipeline. The first, known as G1, would allow it to increase its yearly passenger limit from 25 million to 35 million, using current facilities.

The second, known as G2, would see a second runaway built and vastly increase the amount of flights the airport could handle.


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An announcement on G1 had been expected early this summer following a public inquiry carried out by a planning inspector.

This was called when Stansted's owner, BAA, appealed against the decision by Uttlesford District Council to turn down its application to expand numbers.

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Now, however, the Government has written a letter asking for clarification on a specific part of the application relating to night flights and noise, meaning that the final announcement on whether G1 will be approved has been put back until at least September.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said they suspected the Government was “playing politics” in holding back on its decision on G1 due to other factors.

Since the Government published its 2003 White Paper on the future of aviation in the UK - which includes the proposed expansion of not only Stansted but also Heathrow Airport - the issue of increased air travel has become much more controversial.

Rising fuel costs, environmental fears, and the Terminal Five fiasco have intensified public debate on whether building extra runways and encouraging more flights is a sensible policy.

Carol Barbone, of SSE, said: “We suspect that there is something in the inspector's report that the Government doesn't like politically.

“The Government is clearly under fire from all quarters with regard to airport expansion at the moment, and Stansted is the first major test of its White Paper policy. It clearly doesn't want it to fail at this first stage.

“This latest excuse for delay is totally unbelievable. It relates to a matter which could have been dealt with six months ago. One could simply put this down to dithering and inefficiency but we suspect that the Government is deliberately trying to buy more time.”

Yesterday, however, a spokesman for the Department for Transport said the delay had been caused because of confusion over an agreement regarding night noise.

“During the Stansted inquiry, both BAA and Uttlesford District Council proposed a condition on night noise which conflicts with the Government's established night noise regime.

“The purpose of this reference back letter is to invite parties to comment on this issue.

“The Secretaries of State will take into account all representations on these matters in reaching their decision on the appeal.”

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: “Along with other parties involved, we have been invited to make further representations on proposed night noise contours at Stansted. We will be doing so, and await the outcome of our appeal.”

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