BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December 2003, 18:38 GMT
Stansted heads airports expansion
Stansted Airport terminal
Busier times ahead at Stansted
Stansted and Heathrow are to get new runways under the government's 30-year plan for air travel in the UK.

Stansted's second runway is due to be ready by 2011, with Heathrow to get a third by 2020 if it meets environmental targets such as a car charging scheme.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said expansion had to cope with the number of passengers travelling through UK airports tripling over 30 years.

The announcement has angered residents' groups and environmental campaigners.

New runway at Stansted "as soon as possible"
New runway and possible sixth terminal at Heathrow between 2015 and 2020
Environmental conditions imposed on Heathrow's expansion
No new runway at Gatwick until after 2019 - and then only if Heathrow conditions not met
Proposed new airport at Cliffe, Kent, abandoned
Luton Airport to develop to make maximum use of its existing runway

Among other proposals are a new runway in Birmingham and a possible one in Edinburgh, too.

Mr Darling told MPs the plan recognised the benefits of air travel but "seeks to reduce and minimise the impact of airports to those living nearby to the environment".

He had no doubt the plans - which if backed by MPs would still require airport owners to get planning permission - would face legal challenges but argued the government could not duck "difficult decisions".

The big airlines had warned failure to consider a new runway at Heathrow would make the aviation industry go the same way as shipbuilding and coal mining.

How Stansted is set to expand

A possible sixth terminal at Heathrow is also being considered but Mr Darling also unveiled a series of environmental conditions which would need to be met.

As well as keeping within EU limits on pollution, there would have to be no increase in the area affected by aircraft noise around the west London airport.

The airport will also have to put pressure on airlines to improve technology, charge passengers for driving to the airport in an effort to curb car pollution and use clean fuel in its service vehicles.

Work on Stansted's new runway will start "as soon as possible" under the plan, although it is not likely to be completed until 2011.

Noise limits

There will be only one new runway, not the two or three previously proposed, but that would cater for an extra 46 million passengers a year, says the government.

Ministers say noise limits will be enforced but the new runway will not mean the EU pollution limits are broken.

Stansted: From 18m currently to 70-80m after new runway
Heathrow: From 63m currently to 93m when Terminal 5 built, then to 119m in 2015 when third runway built
Birmingham: From 9m currently to 13m in 2011 with runway extension, up to 45m in 2016 with second runway completed

The plan would also mean 100 properties being destroyed, including two ancient monuments.

The new plan says there will be no new runway at Gatwick airport before 2019, but that could change after that date if the environmental conditions at Heathrow are not met.

Campaigners in Cliffe, Kent, have been celebrating that the idea of a new airport in their area has been discarded.

Birmingham's new runway will be "subject to stringent measures to limit noise and improve access", says the plan.

Proposals for a new airport at Rugby and Coventry have been rejected.

Terminal development

But East Midlands Airport will expand, although without a new runway.

And land will be kept ready in Edinburgh for a possible runway by 2020, alongside a "substantial terminal development".

There could also be possible runway extensions too at Aberdeen and Inverness.

New runway at Birmingham
No new Midlands airport, East Midlands to expand without new runway
Extra terminal and runway extension at Bristol
Extra terminal capacity at Manchester and Liverpool Lennon
Expanded terminal and runway at Newcastle

Manchester Airport will get "additional capacity" and Bristol will get both a runway extension and an extra terminal.

The National Air Traffic Services, which provides air traffic control services to aircraft flying in UK airspace, said it was pleased the government wanted to expand existing airports rather than build new ones.

"Airports are not just about land, they are about airspace as well, and building a new airport in the South East would simply add even more complexity into an already complex system," Nats said.

Fierce opposition

For the Conservatives, shadow transport secretary Theresa May said the plans would "only deliver blight to millions of people living around airports across this country".

And Liberal Democrat transport spokesman John Thurso said more should be done to manage demand.

A vociferous local group, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, is fiercely opposed to an extra runway at Stansted, in Essex.

Possible new runway at Edinburgh by 2020
Possible runway extensions at Aberdeen and Inverness
Capacity to increase at Cardiff but no new south-east Wales airport
Belfast Airport to grow within existing boundaries to serve forecast demand

Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Norman Mead called the idea illogical and undeliverable.

"The government's 'green' credentials are now totally discredited by this White Paper whose clear message is 'to hell with protecting the environment, our national heritage and local communities - planes take priority'," he said.

John Stewart of HACAN Clearskies, a group fighting any major growth at Heathrow, told BBC News it was concerned about air pollution, the "constant drone of aeroplanes overhead" and "aviation's growing contribution to global warming".

Father Phil Hughes, St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, Harmondsworth, said: "We're all extremely concerned - we've had a massive campaign to literally keep our community on the map."

British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington called the Heathrow decision excellent news for the aviation industry, businesses and tourism.

The BBC's Simon Montague
"Fitting bigger airports into a small country is a tough job"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific