Stansted runway plans spark concern

CONTROVERISAL plans to build a second runway at a major airport would be a disaster for the people of Suffolk, campaigners have warned.

CONTROVERISAL plans to build a second runway at a major airport would be a disaster for the people of Suffolk, campaigners have warned.

A massive three-month public consultation has begun into a £2.7 billion scheme to build the runway at Stansted Airport, which is expected to increase passenger levels by 300% within 25 years.

But while air chiefs said the project would be central to a “dynamic economy”, creating an estimated 26,000 jobs, the proposals have been met with widespread concern among community leaders and campaigners.

Alan Line, chairman of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group, told the EADT: “We were opposed to the initial plans to increase passenger activity so we are not exactly over the moon about a second runway.

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“This will be a pure disaster for people living around Stansted and also for people living in Suffolk. I would urge residents to make their views known as our quality of life in the county will suffer dramatically if a second runway is built.”

Last month, airport operators BAA launched the consultation on possible locations for the second runway, sending out details to 200,000 local residents and briefing regional politicians and airlines.

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Suffolk County Council leader Jeremy Pembroke said the plans could cause Suffolk residents “considerable intrusion” and called on airport bosses to give a greater say to grassroots authorities.

He said: “The county council's view at the moment is that the existing runway should be used to the maximum before building another runway as otherwise it will just encourage the growth of air travel in an unreasonable way.

“There could be a very serious problem with aircraft stacking over Sudbury and the villages and the whole thing must be managed very carefully.

“The county council is an official consultee but I think the same should apply for the parish and small town councils. They are at the grassroots and they know the problems far better than the county council or the BAA.”

In total, the airport authority is looking at seven different options across four runway locations at Stansted.

It is estimated more than 70 million people will use the two-runway airport by 2030 - compared to the current level of 22 million passengers a year.

Subject to planning permission, airport bosses say the expansion would be carried out in phases as passenger numbers grow.

Further consultations on supporting road and rail schemes will take place in the coming months before a formal planning application for the development is submitted in 2007.

Terry Morgan, BAA Stansted's managing director, said: “A second runway will play a key role in helping UK industry compete and win in the global economy.

“The airport is central to the dynamic £80 billion economy of the East of England and already gives increasing numbers of business and leisure travellers access to more and more European and international destinations.

“This is a project of considerable scale and complexity which is going to have significant implications for the local area, which is why we want as many people as possible to get involved in our public consultation programme.”

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