Runway fight goes to public inquiry

TWO groups set up to fight the building of a second runway at Stansted Airport have vowed to use a public inquiry to win their battle against the controversial expansion plans.

Annie Davidson

TWO groups set up to fight the building of a second runway at Stansted Airport have vowed to use a public inquiry to win their battle against the controversial expansion plans.

The Government yesterday called in planning applications for the second runway and a public inquiry will now be held before a final decision on the project, known as G2, is made by ministers.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and the CO2 (Councils Opposed to 2nd runway) groups said they would be taking all their objections to the formal hearing.

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Roger Pellman, G2 project director, welcomed the news of the call-in. “We now confidently look forward to presenting our case in front of an independent inspector at the forthcoming planning inquiry,” he said.

“There are huge social and economic benefits to be enjoyed from the development of a second runway at Stansted for the East of England, London and for UKplc, and we are fully committed to maximising these opportunities for millions of air travellers while at the same time doing all we can to limit, avoid and mitigate against any environmental impacts.”

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Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council and member of CO2, said: “We will now fight on behalf of nearly five million people in the East of England from Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire at this public inquiry who say enough is enough.

“We say this public inquiry is an opportunity for us to be able to persuade the planning inspector and all those watching that we are living with an aviation future which asks for local communities to sacrifice too much.”

Stop Stansted Expansion said last night it was “confident” the BAA plans would be “soundly defeated” at the public inquiry.

Spokeswoman Carol Barbone added: “While Stop Stansted Expansion will again present evidence to the public inquiry, largely focusing on the technical detail of the application, it is the individual responses from members of the public which will best describe the madness of the proposal to make Stansted bigger…we urge everyone to make their views known in as much or as little detail as they choose.”

Mrs Barbone and Uttlesford District Council leader Jim Ketteridge both criticised the Government for calling in the G2 application before the outcome of a public inquiry into an earlier Stansted application had been decided.

The G1 plan, to increase the number of passengers using the existing runway, was the subject of an enquiry last year but no decision has yet been announced.

A Communities and Local Government department spokesperson said yesterday: “The Government has today 'called in' planning applications for a second runway at Stansted airport.

“A public inquiry will be held in due course. Anyone who wishes to express a view on the proposals can do so.

“These applications have been called in because this is a very large proposal of regional and national significance.

“An independent planning inspector will make a formal recommendation following the inquiry and the final decision will be taken by ministers.”

She added that the G1 and G2 application were separate ones and the timing of each was a matter for the applicant which in both cases was BAA.

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