Runway campaign boost

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the expansion of Stansted Airport have received a boost after another organisation threatened legal action to halt the development.

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the expansion of Stansted Airport have received a boost after another organisation threatened legal action to halt the development.

The latest organisation to talk of possible court action is Bar UK, which is unhappy that the Government proposes to expand Stansted ahead of Heathrow and Gatwick, despite Stansted being expected to find it hard to pay for its own development.

Bar UK, is the trade association for scheduled airlines doing business in Britain.

The trade association wants the Government to build a third, short, runway at Heathrow airport in west London and a second runway at Gatwick airport in West Sussex.

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But Bar UK said that, should the Government opt for a new runway at Stansted, it was doubtful if it could be funded from the income generated there. It said the money would have to come from profits made by airport operator BAA at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Bar UK's chairman, Mike Carter, said: "If the Government proposes to develop new runway capacity at Stansted before Heathrow and Gatwick, and to have that expansion funded by the users of BAA's other two London airports, I expect Bar UK members to support a recourse to legal action."

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Chairman of the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign (SSEC) Norman Mead said: "This confirms our view and although we don't wish the runway on Heathrow or anywhere else it is good to see our arguments are being listened to."

Mr Mead said a report into the economics at Stansted Airport by Professor David Starkie made similar points as those made by Bar UK.

The report was commissioned by SSEC and Uttlesford District Council and sent to MPs, airline operators, local authorities and other interested organisations.

Mr Mead said: "It is very much a deeper problem than just putting in a runway at Stansted. It has got to be paid for, it has got to be economical, airlines have got to want it and it has got to be sustainable. It is none of those things.

"We are looking at what further legal action we could take if things go against us but it is good to see these arguments being made elsewhere."

BAA admit that, while a new runway at Stansted was financially feasible, "the charges needed to remunerate the investment would need to be shared across users of the London system as a whole rather than applied to Stansted users only."

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, who is expected to publish the Government;s White Paper on airport expansion in London next month, has said that "doing nothing is not an option" as he seeks to lay down a firm policy to cope with aviation demands for the next 30 years.

Other problems facing Mr Darling as he prepares the White Paper include, a third runway at Heathrow raises huge environmental issues; A long-standing agreement not to expand Gatwick before 2019 would have to be overturned to build a new runway there; The operators of Luton airport are threatening legal action if expansion at the Bedfordshire airport is ruled out; The Civil Aviation Authority has expressed concern at allowing charges at one airport to pay for expanding another.

The TUC has calculated that, if aviation is allowed to expand, the UK economy will be richer by some £15 billion by 2030.

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