Ecology considered by airport inquiry

PUBLISHED: 15:28 13 June 2007 | UPDATED: 21:43 29 May 2010

THE ECOLOGICAL and economical impact of Stansted Airport s expansion was spelt out at the inquiry last week. The inquiry is into the decision by Uttlesford District council to refuse BAA planning permission to raise the number of people who can use Stanst

THE ECOLOGICAL and economical impact of Stansted Airport's expansion was spelt out at the inquiry last week.

The inquiry is into the decision by Uttlesford District council to refuse BAA planning permission to raise the number of people who can use Stansted Airport to 35 million people per annum.

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) concluded its case to the inquiry by illustrating that if the airport was granted expansion, it would mean in excess of 40 per cent extra passengers travelling through the airport over the next seven years.

Roger Harborough, UDC's head of planning and housing strategy, told the inquiry: "The increment alone is equivalent to, or exceeds, the total capacity of many of our regional airports.

"Stansted today is already the UK's third largest airport."

Mr Harborough also claimed that any economic benefits gained by expanding the airport would be outweighed by the environmental damage expansion would cause.

He said: "The weighing of environmental impact against economic benefits should take account of community feedback to the increase in air transport movements since 2003.

"People are not prepared to accept a further deterioration."

BAA's barrister, Michael Humphries QC, cross-examined Mr Harborough.

Other parties who spoke at the inquiry included Manuden resident David Jacobs, who criticised the cheap air-fare culture and said that it detracted from British tourism, making any economical benefits "an illusion".

Bruce Munro, who spoke representing the Thaxted Society, said: "Expanded use will resuscitate huge development of the infrastructure of this already much-ravaged area.

"The quality of the towns, villages, churches, history and much besides is such that it should be spared virtual destruction."

Previously the inquiry had heard from ecologist Dr Chris Gibson, who said that more flights from Stansted could cause irreversible damage to the ancient woodland of Hatfield Forest.

Dr Gibson said that higher levels of nitrogen oxides could cause unpreventable harm to the forest's natural areas and that there were "no practical mitigation measures that could be put in place" if the expansion went ahead.

On Friday BAA began making its case at the inquiry. The airport operator's planning advisor, John Rhodes, says that the planning application is directly in line with Government policy and should not be refused.

Mr Rhodes said: "The proposals are important to the fulfilment of regional planning and economic strategy and there is an urgent operational need for them to be permitted. In my judgment, planning permission should be granted without delay."

How do you think the inquiry is going? Let us have your views.

Write to editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk

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