Expansion of Stansted Airport Aug02

THE massive expansion which could take place at Stansted airport will not only despoil the beautiful countryside of mid Essex but also bring unprecedented noise pollution to West Suffolk and the Stour Valley, and especially to Sudbury.

The main flight path to Stansted from eastern and southern Europe follows a route from Dusseldorf to Brussels and then over the North Sea to the Stour at Harwich and then Sudbury. The explosion in low cost airlines operating out of Stansted has already had a major impact on our part of East Anglia - if the airport gets one, two or even three extra runways, our peace and tranquillity will be shattered.

In 2000, Stansted airport handled around 12m passengers and its ongoing expansion since 1948 has created many new jobs and prosperity for the area. In November 2000, I wrote to the Managing Director of the British Airport's Authority (BAA), the owners of Stansted Airport, to express my support for a modest expansion over time with initial improvements in parking and the road-rail infrastructure.

The two councils responsible for Stansted, Essex county and Uttlesford district, should urge the British Airports Authority and the UK government to consider only a modest expansion of Stansted, with a new airport in the Thames Estuary to share capacity for increased air travel is a better option, both economically and environmentally.

I am also urging Suffolk county and Babergh district to adopt this option as a sensible solution to the dilemma of increased runway capacity in the South East coupled with a need to protect our historic and beautiful environment.

Stansted, with one runway in 2000, handled daily around 32,000 passengers on 220 flights (approx 14 flights per hour for 16 hour day). The proposed 5.2bn expansion of Stansted from 1 to 4 runways will allow it to handle around 120,000 passengers on 800 flights (1 flight every minute), create 93,000 jobs at the airport and give a significant boost to the area's economy.

I think such a massive expansion of Stansted over a few years is unnecessary and unacceptable. I see merit in sharing capacity with a new airport in the Thames Estuary, possibly part funded by the EU, that will certainly rejuvenate economically a deprived area. Stansted will have fewer new jobs but the rural character of Suffolk and Essex that attracts all residents and many foreign tourists will be preserved. I hope common sense prevails!