Revolt threat if Stansted runway allowed

By Juliette MaxamCAMPAIGNERS threatened revolt and legal action against the Government last night amid speculation it has decided to approve a plan for a second runway at Stansted Airport.

By Juliette Maxam

CAMPAIGNERS threatened revolt and legal action against the Government last night amid speculation it has decided to approve a plan for a second runway at Stansted Airport.

It was reported at the weekend that Prime Minister Tony Blair believes it is more politically acceptable to build a new runway at the Essex airport, rather than at Heathrow.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling was also said to be expected to give another runway at Stansted Airport the go-ahead when he publishes a White Paper on aviation – but say an extra runway could built at Heathrow once emissions problems had been overcome.

Campaigners have warned building an new runway at Stansted Airport would see 100 homes, two ancient monuments and 29 Grade II listed buildings demolished – and they have threatened legal action to stop it going ahead.

Norman Mead, chairman of the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign, said yesterday: "I'm confident what we've said has gone home and they are considering it and I'm very hopeful the points we have made must be taken into account.

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"If they don't, the consequences will be dire. I've mentioned revolt before and that may not be an exaggeration."

The Government White Paper on airport expansion in Britain is due out next month and among the options under consideration are plans to build up to three new runways at Stansted Airport.

The proposals have met with fierce opposition from residents living near Stansted Airport and under its flightpaths – and from the aviation industry, which feared expansion of the site in preference to Heathrow would be their death knell.

The aviation industry, backed by the Confederation for British Industry, is pushing for a new runway to be built at Heathrow Airport.

Andrew Cahn, the director of government affairs at British Airways, warned the UK long-haul aviation industry would go into terminal decline, losing business to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and Schiphol in Amsterdam, if the Stansted option was favoured.

"A runway at Stansted would not get built. Nobody wants it, nobody would pay for it. The Tarmac wouldn't even get laid," he predicted.

Both spokesman for 10 Downing Street and a spokesman for the Department for Transport said yesterday they would not comment on what decisions would taken be in the White Paper.

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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