Updated Monday 22nd December 2003
Second Runway Recommended
A government White Paper on the future of air transport has recommended the building of a second runway at Stansted Airport.
The new runway should open by 2011 and will cost £4bn, catering for an expected 46 million extra passengers. One hundred properties would have to be demolished, together with two ancient monuments.
Mike Carver, leader of East Herts District Council, was appalled by the recommendations. In a statement from the authority, he said: "A new runway for Stansted and more passengers at Luton will have a profound effect on the lives of thousands of people in the South East and beyond. We are very disappointed that this Government has deliberately chosen economic interests over social and environmental responsibility.". He described the proposals as being based on a "flawed predict and provide approach to planning" and vowed that the fight against the runway would continue.
The leader of Hertfordshire County Council, Robert Ellis, was equally critical, saying "Hertfordshire is now sandwiched between three major expansions which will see the airport capacity around our borders more than double. This policy will have a devastating impact on what is already a congested county, resulting in unimaginable pressures on our infrastructure and further drains on labour and resources."
The County Council also highlighted the lack of any discussion of the infrastructure issues thrown up by the expansion.
Stansted is owned by BAA, a private company which also owns Heathrow and Gatwick. The government has said that it will not provide financial support for the building of the new runway. As well as funding the runway, BAA will also have to seek planning permission, as well as facing legal action from organisations that oppose the runway, such as local authorities and even airlines.
BAA cannot raise landing charges at Stansted following a ruling from the Civil Aviation Authority that caps the charges for the next five years. In addition, funds cannot be raised by increasing charges at other airports as the CAA prohibits cross-subsidies.
The government has proposed building up to three news runways at Stansted Airport as one of the options being considered to deal with an expected threefold increase in air passengers over the next 30 years.
The addition of the new runways would make the airport larger than Heathrow and increase it's current capacity of 13 million to 122 million.
The effects of the expansion would be widespread and dramatic. Huge areas of land would be required and many homes and villages will be destroyed. The increase in air traffic in the skies around Stansted would be massive and substantially impact of the quality of life for those in the surrounding areas through increased noise and pollution. In addition, accompanying development in terms of supporting infrastructure and new homes would swallow up vast areas of unspoilt countryside.
Moreover, government plans for a big increase in housebuilding in the home counties raises fears that the entire region will become urbanised.
The government launched a consultation exercise in Autumn 2002 and was expected to announce its' final plans in the Spring of 2003.
However, a judicial review was brought by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and a handful of councils, who argued that it was wrong for the government to exclude Gatwick Airport from their list of options. Justice Maurice Kay, presiding, agreed, calling the exclusion "illogical".
During late 2002, Herts County Council organised a number of public meetings to discuss the issue of airport expansion, having already voiced its' strong opposition to the plans. East Herts District Council too voiced it's serious concerns.
In response, the government issued a second consultation document in March 2003, which retained the options for Stansted. This consultation closed in June 2003.
A government White Paper published on 16th December 2003 recommended a second runway at Stansted, catering for an extra 46 million passengers a year. The runway would be privately financed by the airport's owner, BAA, and open by 2011.
To read more about the Government Consultation on The Future Development of Air Transport visit www.airconsult.gov.uk.
Second Consultation Issued
Public Meeting at County Hall