13 June 2002

Darling ready to expand Stansted with extra runway

By Barrie Clement Transport Editor

Stansted is "virtually certain" to get an additional runway as part of government plans to
expand airport capacity in southern England, according to sources close to the Department for Transport.

The expected decision will cause deep dismay among environmentalists and residents, but the Essex airport is considered to be the easiest option because the area around it has a
relatively sparse population.

Internal advice to the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling, also points out that Stansted has relatively good links with London. The airport is alongside the M11 and has a fast rail link with Liverpool Street station in the City.

Far more difficult for Mr Darling will be the location of two other runways in the South-east if he decides to meet the growing demand for air travel rather than suppress it. John Spellar, a
Transport minister, is known to back a radical increase in capacity, which he believes will be
needed in the long term despite the slump in the industry caused by the terrorist attacks on 11 September.

Among the options is the construction of a new airport at Cliffe on the Kent side of the Thames Estuary, or extra runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.

Mr Darling is due to publish a consultation document within the next few weeks in which the
options will be laid out. He is scheduled to publish his final decision by the end of the year
in a White Paper intended to set policy on the issue for the next 30 years.

The Freedom to Fly Coalition, a pressure group in favour of "sustainable" growth in air travel,
warned Mr Darling yesterday against "undue delay" in the decision-making process, despite his newness to his post. Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, chairwoman of the group,
pointed out that Heathrow's Terminal Five would have taken 13 years from planning application to completion in 2008. While Britain pondered the advisability of building it, two runways were added to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, she said.

Lady Dean said a measured expansion of capacity was vital to aviation, which generates more than half a million jobs in Britain. She pointed out that many airports were congested already, at a time when the Government was forecasting a doubling of passengers within the next 20 years.

There are plans – as yet unapproved – to build a short runway at Heathrow, which would take
domestic and European services, freeing the main landing strip for intercontinental flights. Government experts have been asked to find out if there is any way around a legal ban
on building a second runway at Gatwick.

* Air travellers, including millions of holidaymakers, face a summer of disruption after air traffic controllers rejected a 6 per cent pay offer by the part-privatised National Air Traffic
Services (Nats)
. The controllers' union, Prospect, has warned that strike action could be
called unless Nats, which is facing difficulties with the running of the Swanwick control centre,
improves its pay and conditions package.