Government approves Stansted expansion

The UK government have given the go-head for a controversial expansion of Stansted airport that will give it capacity for an extra 23,000 flights and 10 million passengers per year.

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon announced the changes to the airport’s planning conditions in parliament today. These grant permission for an increase in flights from 241,000 to 264,000 and passengers from 25 million to 35 million.Permission was originally refused by local authority, Uttlesford District Council, in November 2006 on grounds of noise and environmental concerns. However the government overruled the council after an appeal by the airports operator BAA.

BAA has also submitted a planning application for a second runway at Stansted which will go to a public inquiry next year.

Green groups have said the inquiry into lifting restrictions on passenger numbers as the strictest test of government aviation policy since climate change became a major political issue.

The Stansted decision will be followed later this year by a government announcement on plans to build a third runway at Heathrow. The transport secretary, Geoff Hoon, is expected green light the plan. The Conservative party is opposed to expanding both airports and instead want to build a more environmentally-friendly, high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.