28 November 2002

Travel agents refuse to back Thames airport

The travel industry has refused to back plans to build a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary.

Instead, the Government should push ahead with expansion at Heathrow and Luton airports, said the Association of British Travel Agents.

The Thames Estuary airport - at Cliffe in north Kent - is one of the Government's airport expansion options under consultation. In its response to the consultation today, ABTA said the Cliffe option was too expensive and environmentally damaging.

ABTA said it was keen on an extended runway at Luton in Bedfordshire. It said steps should be taken to ensure Heathrow "retained its position as the UK's premier hub".

The association added that it would like to see improved rail links to airports and noise limitations put on aircraft.

A referendum result was delivered to 10 Downing Street today showing that nearly 90 per cent of residents in the area around Stansted airport in Essex were opposed to expansion there.

The Government is considering up to three new runways at Stansted, with aviation experts believing that some expansion at the Essex airport is inevitable. The ballot was conducted among residents of the Uttlesford district which covers the Stansted area. A total of 33,546 people (89 per cent) voted against any plans for new runways at Stansted.