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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 14:06 GMT
Celebrity chef joins airport protest
Jamie Oliver and family at airport protest
Jamie Oliver has just bought a home near Stansted
Thousands of campaigners converged on London on Saturday in protest at plans to expand a number of regional airports in England.

Protesters, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver - who lives near Stansted - demanded a rethink of the solutions currently on the table.

Six groups of local campaigners from Cliffe, Heathrow, Luton, Rugby and Stansted joined forces to stage the march on Parliament Square.

The march then ended with a rally in nearby Trafalgar Square.

Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square
The march ended with a rally in Trafalgar Square

An expansion of up to three extra runways at Stansted is one of the options being considered by the government as part of the aviation capacity programme.

Jamie Oliver, whose family joined him on the march, has just bought an 855,000 16th-century manor house at Clavering in Essex - very close to Stansted.

He said: "A chef can't give you all the options but I think we should spend a nice little bit of cash on some really good, professional, experienced, independent advice - not necessarily from within this country.

"Certainly around the world there's been massive successful green airports - in Korea and Hong Kong - which have been out at sea with tubes running to them, which has kept noise and pollution to a minimum for the public.

"Whether we've got the guts in England to do something like that - I don't know"

Further expansion is being recommended at Heathrow, Luton and Rugby, while a four-runway airport at Cliffe in north Kent is also under consideration.

Heathrow Airport
Airport expansion is worrying protesters
Labour MP, John McDonnell, whose Hayes & Harlington constituency covers Heathrow, said expansion of existing airports was not an option.

He said: "In my constituency it will mean the devastation of the local area in terms of the environment.

"We are talking about a massive increase in noise and pollution and anything up to 4,000 homes being demolished, three schools, and local churches."

Mr McDonnell said the government should instead focus on developing regional airports and even considering some sort of airport at sea, away from urban developments.

The government listed its options for expansion in a consultation paper in July this year.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling will make final decisions in an aviation White Paper due in spring 2003.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Lister
"Expansion will not come without a fight"
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver
"It would be horrible for the area"
Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, Saffron Walden
"We should be looking at lessons learned from overseas"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

13 Nov 02 | England
07 Oct 02 | England
23 Jul 02 | Politics
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