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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 13:42 GMT
Uproar at airport expansion plans
Aeroplanes at Heathrow
Campaigners have promised a "mother of all battles"
Campaign groups have come out fighting as the government pledged to press ahead with airport expansion plans.

The "Progress Report on the Aviation White Paper" gave a commitment to a third, short runway at Heathrow airport and a new runway at Stansted.

Opposition groups have vowed to fight the move which they say would bring misery to thousands of people.

But the London Chamber of Commerce said the runway expansion plans would act as a boost for business.

HACAN ClearSkies, the group that represents people living under the Heathrow flight path claims at least 700 homes would have to be demolished to make way for a third runway at Heathrow.

We believe Heathrow can develop in a way that is sensitive to environmental issues
Leader of Future Heathrow, Clive Soley

"Over 150,000 people in London and Berkshire would experience high levels of aircraft noise for the first time as they would find themselves living under the flight path to the new runway", campaign chairman John Stewart added.

"Local councils, residents' groups and nearly all the MPs in the area are opposed to further expansion of Heathrow, and direct action would be inevitable," he said.

Carol Barbone, a spokeswoman for the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, said: "This is not a progress report at all but the very opposite.

"It shows the government remains wedded to the past and unable to grasp the very real need that the key priority is to address climate change, not to build new runways."

Seven London boroughs and four authorities outside London, representing two million people living under the flight path, have joined together to form the 2M Group.

Stansted Airport
The plans include a second runway at Stansted

Speaking on behalf of the group, Richmond Council leader Serge Lourie, said an "independent study which includes the full environmental cost of aviation and looks at the impact of spending on flights on the wider economy" should be carried out."

However, Future Heathrow, founded by trade unions, business groups and airlines in May 2005, claims the airport is under threat if development is not allowed to continue on the site.

Leader of Future Heathrow, Clive Soley, said: "Heathrow is critically important to the economic prosperity of West London and the Thames Valley and is a uniquely valuable asset to London and the UK.

"We believe Heathrow can develop in a way that is sensitive to environmental issues and the needs of the local population.

"No-one will thank us for ducking difficult decisions now if we store up greater problems for the future," he said.

In response to the report, the London Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, Colin Stanbridge, said: "This is not before time and will be gratefully received."

Angry campaigners are fighting the expansion plans

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