Both the government and BAA have proposed a new runway and terminal at Stansted to increase capacity at London airports.
Stansted Airport in Essex is regarded by central government as a possible \"quick win\" for future airport expansion around London. Expansion at Heathrow would be costly and extremely unpopular, and expansion at Gatwick is prohibited by law before 2020. A new runway at City Airport is impossible, and would be difficult at Luton. However, the government believes that demand for air travel from London will increase rapidly, and therefore new runway capacity is needed within one or two decades.
A second runway at Stansted would allow the airport to handle more passengers than Heathrow does at present - up to 80 million per annum - as well as a large increase in freight traffic.
A new terminal and significant new access infrastructure would be required for any of the four runway options proposed by BAA. New capacity would also have to be created for surface access to an airport that is served quite poorly compared to Heathrow or Gatwick.
Local and environmental
As with all such expansions, the prospect of a new runway at Stansted has provoked fierce opposition from local authorities (Uttlesford District Council), residents (Stop Stansted Expansion and environmental groups (Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000).
Perhaps more surprising is the high-profile opposition of Stansted-based airline Ryanair. This is because large increases on landing fees would be needed to pay for the runway and associated construction, which could run into billions of pounds. Ryanair believe that growth of low-cost air travel from London is peaking, and new capacity at Stansted is not necessary.
British Airways also object to the Stansted expansion, primarily because BAA, the owners and operators of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, would probably need to use profits from Heathrow (a significant proportion coming from British Airways) to cross-subsidise new construction at Stansted - a prospect airlines at Heathrow are unhappy about.
Problems at Stansted
A number of arguments have been brought forward to combat expansion at Stansted, other than the obvious environmental issues.
Firstly, as previously mentioned, a massive and expensive new surface infrastructure would be required.
Locals are also very concerned that since unemployment is very low in this area, large quantities of new housing will be required for the new staff the airport will require.
The loss of 29 listed buildings and 2 ancient monuments is also of concern to heritage groups, whilst the expansion of the airport boundaries would encompass the villages of Bamber\'s Green, Molehill Green and Broxted Hill.
BAA has reported that a second runway at Stansted is unlikely to open until 2015-16, putting it behind Heathrow expansion planned for 2015.
BAA have outlined plans to add a new runway and terminal to Stansted Airport at a cost of £2.7bn, 30% lower than estimated by the Government. A consultation paper on four different runway location options for the "Generation 2" project will be sent to about 200,000 local residents.
Although the government's white paper on aviation envisaged a new runway at Stansted by 2011 or 2012, the airport operators, BAA, don't believe it could be completed before 2013.
Following a legal challenge by local authorities, the High Court has ruled that government plans to build new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Luton can go ahead - but a full public planning enquiry will be required at Stansted and Luton. The judge criticised the Department for Transport strongly over its failure to supply key information about the Treasury's concerns over the financial viability of the second runway at Stansted.
Links & Sources