Stansted fight will go on

THE fight to stop a major expansion of Stansted Airport will continue even if the move is recommended in the Government's white paper, a campaigner vowed last night.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE fight to stop a major expansion of Stansted Airport will continue even if the move is recommended in the Government's white paper, a campaigner vowed last night.

Norman Mead, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, was speaking just days before Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling is due to announce whether an additional runway will be built at Heathrow or Stansted.

It also emerged yesterday that three major UK airlines have launched a £100,000 advertising campaign calling on the Government to enlarge Heathrow Airport.


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British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and bmi have joined forces with the TUC to call on the Government to approve a third runway at Heathrow.

In a letter to be published in newspapers this week, the groups say creating a third runway at Heathrow would bring around £37 billion of benefits to the UK and create 24,000 direct jobs and 80,000 indirect jobs by 2030.

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But they warn that if the Government opts for Stansted, aviation business will go to Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam instead.

The letter says: "For Britain to be a global player in aviation we need to expand Heathrow. Otherwise business will go to Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

"While Stansted should be developed in the future, it will never be able to compete with Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt International or Amsterdam Schiphol airports."

The letter points out that while Heathrow has only two runways, Amsterdam Schiphol has five, Paris Charles de Gaulle has four and Frankfurt International has three.

It is signed by BA's chief executive Rod Eddington, Virgin Atlantic's chairman Sir Richard Branson, bmi's chairman Sir Michael Bishop and Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC.

The airlines have previously said they have not ruled out taking legal action against the Government if it backs the expansion of Stansted over Heathrow.

They are concerned the development would be cross-subsidised through higher landing charges being levied at Heathrow.

Yesterday Mr Mead said campaigning would continue even if Stansted emerged firmly as the Government's preferred option.

"We have got a few shots in our locker yet. There are many things we would intend to do.

"This might include legal action on the interpretation of European law.

"There will be many thousands of very angry people in Essex and Hertfordshire.

"The fight will go on if it must, there is no question of that. I only hope it doesn't have to."

The Government has not indicated exactly when the announcement will be made, but it is expected to be within a matter of days.

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