Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 13:47 UK

Airport expansion gets go-ahead

It is feared extra flights could mean the end of services at the village church

Controversial plans for an expansion of Stansted Airport in Essex have been given the go-ahead by the government.

Airport owner BAA wants to increase passenger numbers from 25 million to 35 million a year and flights leaving the airport from 241,000 to 264,000 a year.

Objectors said an expansion would damage the environment but some unions said the proposal could bring new jobs.

Uttlesford District Council leader Jim Ketteridge said the decision was a blow for the community.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon made the announcement in a written statement to Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Ketteridge said: "Residents already find the level of aircraft noise extremely disturbing and allowing BAA to increase the amount of air traffic marks a further erosion of our quality of life, particularly for all those living near Stansted Airport."

We may not have won this battle but... we will do everything we can to win the war
Jim Ketteridge, Uttlesford District Council

Stansted's managing director, Stewart Wingate, said the decision was "great news" for passengers.

He said: "We are naturally delighted that the Secretaries of State have granted permission for the next phase of growth at Stansted.

"This secures our future up to 35 million passengers a year."

Planning permission for the expansion was originally refused on grounds of noise and environmental concerns by Uttlesford Council in November 2006.

A public inquiry was held during which BAA said there would be measures to control, manage and minimise predicted impacts on the local environment.

A letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government to BAA's lawyers said ministers found the impact on health caused by air pollution was "likely to be very small".

However, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said it was bad news for people living near Stansted: "This is further evidence that the government is in the pocket of the aviation industry.

"It shows the gaping void between its environmental rhetoric and reality.

Passenger numbers are falling at Stansted because of the state of the economy

"Ministers like to talk green, but their actions show they are only too willing to increase carbon emissions."

Members of the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign group have held a long-running campaign against the plans.

Graham Thompson, an activist with campaign group Plane Stupid, said: "Whether it's Ruth Kelly or Geoff Hoon, it's quite clear that the minister for BAA is not working in the interests of Britain.

"Our democratic checks and balances are failing and escalating direct action is now inevitable."

BAA also wants to build a second runway at Stansted as part of long-term plans for the airport.

Mr Ketteridge, from Uttlesford Council, said: "We are redoubling our efforts to fight the second runway proposals.

"We may not have won this battle, but with the help of our local authority partners, we will do everything we can to win the war."

Stansted expansion fight goes on
09 Oct 08 |  England
Trust joins anti-airport battle
07 Sep 07 |  England
BAA outlines Stansted expansion
09 Dec 05 |  Business

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