Stansted poll dismissed
A SURVEY of MPs has revealed that more than half support proposals to build another runway at Stansted airport.But a campaign group against the expansion said the findings released by the Market and Opinion Research International yesterday "isn't worth the paper it's written on" and the region's MPs also oppose the plans.
A SURVEY of MPs has revealed that more than half support proposals to build another runway at Stansted airport.
But a campaign group against the expansion said the findings released by the Market and Opinion Research International yesterday "isn't worth the paper it's written on" and the region's MPs also oppose the plans.
Up to three extra runways are being considered as part of the Department of Transport's consultation on airport capacity in south-east England. If Stansted were expanded to four runways, it would make it a hub airport bigger than Heathrow and a rival to Charles de Gaulle in Paris.
The opinion poll of 119 MPs from all parties revealed that three out of four of them believed it was important to develop new airport capacity in the south east of England.
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MORI said that on balance MPs expressed support for new runways at each of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, with 53% supporting one new runway at Stansted and only 17% against.
However, just 17% of the MPs surveyed supported two new runways at the Essex airport, with 45% against.
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Norman Mead, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Frankly this survey isn't worth the paper it's written on. It was commissioned, paid for and publicised by BAA - whose political lobbying budget runs to over a million pounds a year - to try to push public opinion in favour of one of the three BAA airport sites in the south east.
"The airport operator must be very insecure indeed if it has had to go to these lengths to try to counter the anti-expansion lobby."
Simon Burns, MP for West Chelmsford, said: "If, and it is a big if, we need increased capacity in the south east I would prefer to see it at one of the two existing London airports as Stansted is so inappropriate because of its rural setting."
Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, said: "They interviewed 119 people and their responses are dependent on where they all come from.
"The expansion would have a great impact at Stansted. As I understand it, the message is that more of the MPs expressed a preference for Gatwick and I would agree with that."
Tim Yeo, MP for Suffolk South, said: "People in my constituency feel very strongly that it will affect the tranquillity of the Dedham Vale and it will be very harmful. We need to make sure that the government understands the extent of the intrusion that a runway would impose."
Commenting on the findings BAA's chief executive, Mike Clasper, said: "This poll clearly indicates that the Government can take the crucial decisions that are urgently needed on new runways and be confident that there is strong support among MPs.
"It is important to note that MPs have not ruled out any major south east airport for potential runway development. If the Government can be satisfied that the environmental consequences of new runways can be appropriately managed it can choose the first new runway secure in the knowledge that its decision will be broadly supported by MPs."