Protest at Stansted Airport second runway plan

A LARGE crowd of anti-expansion protestors vented their fury at controversial plans to build a second runway at Stansted Airport yesterday .

Elliot Furniss

A LARGE crowd of anti-expansion protestors vented their fury at controversial plans to build a second runway at Stansted Airport yesterday .

The campaigners gathered outside the Hilton Hotel near the north Essex airport to voice their opposition to the move, which was later discussed at an inquiry programming meeting.

The meeting was arranged for all parties to get together and discuss the content of the public inquiry into plans for a second runway, which will be held later this year.

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Members of protest group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) carried placards and banners outside the hotel before senior members joined local and county councillors, representatives from the National Trust and airport owners BAA for the discussions.

Their main concern is that the investigation should be “thorough, fair and transparent”.

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A spokesman for SSE said: “Anything less than a full, accessible hearing would risk the wrong conclusions being reached based on superficial claims by the airport owner BAA and would prevent members of the public and their representatives from properly participating in the inquiry process.

“This would be both unfair and undemocratic and completely unacceptable in view of the scale of what is being proposed - plans to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow and any other airport in Europe today.”

One protester in the crowd yesterday was 66-year-old Irene Jones, who lives in nearby Broxted at the north east end of the runway and has been campaigning against expansion for 31 years.

She said: “I gave evidence at the public inquiry in the 1980s. It's very frustrating - the Government has made its mind up and you feel as though you're not being listened to.

“A second runway wouldn't be worth living with.”

Mrs Jones lives with her husband Keith, son Christopher and 16-year-old grandson Nathan, who often found it hard to focus on his homework and exam revision due to the excessive noise created by the aircraft.

Government ministers will decide whether the second runway should be built after they receive the report from the planning inspectorate, which will begin its inquiry on April 15.

Last night a spokesman for BAA Stansted, which runs the airport, said: “The planning inspector opened the meeting this morning and said that he was aware of the demo outside and wanted no one to be left in any doubt that he wants the public inquiry to be full and fair.

“We, as BAA Stansted, support that belief and we have always been clear that we will do all we can to make sure the process is full, open and efficient.”

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