Inquiry checks in after long delays

THE public inquiry into BAA s application to allow Stansted Airport to handle 35 million passengers a year ended on Friday. Evidence was given during the five-month inquiry from BAA and those opposing the expansion, including MPs, Stop Stansted Expansion

THE public inquiry into BAA's application to allow Stansted Airport to handle 35 million passengers a year ended on Friday.

Evidence was given during the five-month inquiry from BAA and those opposing the expansion, including MPs, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and the president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

The inquiry looked at arguments for and against increasing usage of the airport's existing runway after BAA appealed the decision by Uttlesford District Council in November 2006 to refuse unlimited use of the airport.

The council restricted the number of passengers using Stansted to 25 million per annum and the number of air transport movements to 241,000 per year.


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BAA hopes to remove the passenger cap, as it has already reached 23.9 million passengers per year and expects to reach the 25 million cap in 2008.

It also hopes to increase its air transport movements by 20,000.

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Stansted's business development and planning director Nick Barton said: "This inquiry has examined in close detail the evidence to support our case for expansion.

"We now await the outcome of the inspector's report and the decision of the Government, but we remain very confident of the strong and compelling case we have made.

"We know that success would bring benefits to many millions who want to travel around the world on business and leisure trips."

BAA believes expansion will create 3800 jobs, with millions ploughed into the local economy.

While BAA remains "upbeat", Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said it believes the inquiry has left the airport's case in 'tatters'.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "BAA has been unconvincing in its efforts to persuade the inquiry that its proposed development would have no material effects on the community or environment.

"Nor has BAA been able to provide a shred of evidence that expanding Stansted beyond its present limit of 25 million passengers a year would deliver any net economic benefits."

The economy was a major topic at the inquiry, but climate change was also hot on the agenda. SSE presented evidence along with the president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, from Greenland, Aqqaluk Lynge, who gave evidence about changes taking place in the Arctic.

Inquiry inspector Alan Boyland, heard evidence from 130 witnesses and will make recommendations to Secretaries of State Hazel Blears and Ruth Kelly before Christmas. The Government will make the final decision. The recommendations are not expected to be made public

until 2008.

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