Second runway at least five years away

LABOUR promised yesterday that a second runway will not be built at Stansted Airport for five years.

In an election pledge unveiled in its manifesto, the Labour Party revealed it continued to back plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport in London but would not allow additional runways at any of the country’s other airports during the next parliament.

Campaigners opposing the expansion of Stansted yesterday repeated their call for airport operators BAA to drop the controversial plans which have been in the pipeline for eight years.

Stop Stansted Expansion said last month that BAA should do the “honourable” thing and ditch the planning application to remove the “blight and uncertainty” from communities near the airport.

Campaign director Carol Barbone said recently-released statistics showed passenger numbers at the airport had dropped over a number of years and claimed there was no demand for a second runway.

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“Stansted knows full well there is no hurry for expansion because there is no need for a second runway so it should do the decent thing and withdraw the planning application,” she said.

“Gordon Brown must be the last person in the UK to have worked out that a decision on a second Stansted runway couldn’t possibly be taken in the next parliamentary term.

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“With the question of Stansted Airport’s ownership still unresolved, the need to update the planning application document and a lengthy public inquiry before we even get to the stage of a Government decision on whether or not we should allow a runway to proceed, it is at least five years away anyway.”

Labour’s manifesto said Heathrow was already operating at full capacity and was “supporting millions of jobs, business and citizens who depend upon it.”

The manifesto went on: “We support a third runway at Heathrow, subject to strict conditions on environmental impact and flight numbers, but we will not allow additional runways to proceed at any other airport in the next Parliament.”

The BAA said last night: “We agree that demand for extra capacity at Heathrow exists now, whereas the second runway at Stansted is designed to meet demand in the future. The case for both runways remains strong.”

A Tory spokesman said the party had been clear for a long time that it would not allow another runway at Stansted. The Liberal Democrats also oppose a second runway at Stansted Airport as well as a third at Heathrow.

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