Operator calls for more Stansted runways

By James HoreRESIDENTS have reacted with fury after airport operator BAA called on the Government to build up to two new runways at Stansted Airport.

By James Hore

RESIDENTS have reacted with fury after airport operator BAA called on the Government to build up to two new runways at Stansted Airport.

BAA also urged the creation of a short extra runway at Heathrow Airport and a second runway at Gatwick Airport.

It claimed the developments were vital for the growth of the country's economy, but campaigners fighting the expansion of Stansted Airport claimed the environmental costs of such proposals would be “catastrophic”.

BAA made its call yesterday in its response to the Government's consultation paper on aviation capacity in the UK.

Its chief executive designate, Mike Clasper, said: “This is a critical decision for the UK. If we do not provide the infrastructure for aviation to grow, we will cause significant damage to our country's international competitiveness.

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“Aviation is vital to the growth of internationally-traded services and high-value manufacturing upon which our economic future depends.”

BAA said its approach to responsible airport development was based upon the Government's own four principles for sustainable development.

Mr Clasper said: “By responsible growth, we mean an approach which balances economic, social and environmental concerns and which respects absolute environmental capacity limits, where these have been clearly established, as is the case with climate change.

“We are committed to working with the Government and with our local communities to understand fully the detailed issues surrounding air pollution and noise disturbance and to work with all stakeholders to control, mitigate or compensate for these impacts.”

BAA said one new runway would be financially viable at Stansted Airport and a second runway could be viable, but an appraisal could best be carried out following the investment in the first runway.

John Williams, head of public affairs at Stansted Airport, said BAA did not think the Essex site had the necessary infrastructure to support as many as three extra runways.

David Crosier, chief executive of Essex Chamber of Commerce, said: “Fundamentally, it is very helpful that BAA have come out with a clear statement as to their perception of the needs for the aviation industry.”

He added there was a need for proper infrastructure to be in place to support the airport and felt the region could benefit from one additional runway.

The Government has forecast demand for air travel in the South East will grow from 117 million passengers a year in 2000 to about 200 million in 2015 and 300 million in 2030.