| SECOND RUNWAY PROPOSALS
Despite BAA's claims that its new plans are 'greener' than the previous ideas put forward in the Air Transport White Paper and BAA's own consultation, a second Stansted runway making the airport the size of Heathrow today would be a catastrophe for the community, region and the environment in any position. Read for yourself about some of the impacts on people caused by Heathrow's operations.
. The impacts of an airport handling 68 million passengers a year and possibly rising to 80-90 million at full capacity would be felt across the region and beyond.
. Noise from overflying, major road, rail and infrastructure pressures, worsening air quality and airport related development would affect tens of thousands of people across Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, impairing their quality of life - quite apart from the devastating effect that an expanded Stansted would have on the immediate community.
. The climate change impacts would be enormous, with predicted annual carbon dioxide emissions rising from around 5 million tonnes a year at present to 12 million tonnes annually with full use of the existing runway and 23 million tonnes with a second runway. See Climate Change page.
Nor can BAA's suggestion of 'segregated' operation of two runways (where planes only take off on one runway and only land on the other) be taken as any guarantee that anyone would be 'safe' from noisy jets flying overhead, given that BAA makes clear that should capacity issues arise it reserves the right to switch to 'mixed mode' - where planes land and take off on both runways. The airport operator is already trying to renege on 'segregated' operation at Heathrow as a means of squeezing even more flights out of that airport.
Coupled with plans by NATS (who provide air traffic control services in the UK) to revise the current airspace and flight path arrangements to accommodate the growing volume of flights in the UK, not least those associated with Stansted, the reality is that no-one can be sure that they wouldn't be overflown. Indicative flight paths and stacking 'holds' in the second runway application are almost identical to the airspace changes proposed by NATS in February 2008. People living in peaceful villages currently unaffected by aircraft could soon find they are regularly suffering noise blight with the addition of new flight paths and/or stacking areas for use of the existing runway - never mind a second one.
A second runway - still as distant a prospect as ever
BAA submitted its planning application for a second runway in March 2008. The scale of the project means it will be subject to a lengthy public inquiry which the Government expects will run until 2010. This means the result may not be known before 2011. Even then, this may only represent an 'option to build' which is never taken up, according to a briefing which BAA recently gave to investors. See SSE Press Release. Even if planning permission were ever secured, the earliest a second runway could be operational according to BAA would be 2015/16, in contrast with the Air Transport White Paper which sought an operational date of 2011/12.
Opposition to the second runway proposals
There are many obstacles in BAA's path to be overcome before it could ever realise its hopes for a second Stansted runway.
. Opposition from the community continues to be fierce and the campaign against a second runway is actively supported by over 140 parish and town councils and special interest groups. District councils including Uttlesford, East Herts, Harlow, North Herts, Epping Forest, South Cambridgeshire and Braintree are united with county councils including Essex, Herts, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in opposing second runway plans. All local MPs and MEPs in the region - including Government Minister the Harlow MP Bill Rammell - and the East of England Regional Assembly are also against the proposals.
. Environmental organisations including the National Trust, Woodland Trust, Friends of the Earth, CPRE, Essex Wildlife Trust, Greenpeace, RSPB, Ramblers' Association and Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings are wholly opposed to the plans.
. Pricing issues (critical to Stansted's future), currently being reviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority as part of its regulatory responsibility, are far from being resolved, while the Competition Commission's ruling on BAA's monopoly position could well scupper development plans if Stansted has to be sold off.
. BAA's Spanish owner Ferrovial hasn't even established whether there is a business case for second runway plans which are actively opposed by its main customers, the airlines who use the airport, notably Ryanair and Easyjet who account for nearly 90 percent of passengers.
. There is growing pressure on the Government to tackle the enormously damaging impacts of aviation on climate change at a time when industry and individuals are being asked to cut their use of fossil fuels to reduce the nation's carbon footprint. Aviation is the fastest growing source of the emissions that contribute to global warming, exacerbated by their release at altitude which makes them almost twice as damaging as on the ground.
. BAA has already encountered major opposition to its plans for expansion on the existing runway which was the subject of a Public Inquiry in 2007. The environmental and social impacts which would result even from the expansion proposed for the single runway were deemed too great by the planning authority, not least given the lack of evidence of economic benefits for expanding passenger capacity and increased flights. The result of the Public Inquiry is expected in Autumn 2008.
For information on the consultation held in early 2006 on BAA's second runway plans and the many responses in opposition, click here.
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