Airport public inquiry postponed

A PUBLIC inquiry into expansion plans at Stansted Airport has been postponed by the Government. The inquiry was due to start on April 15 but will now be delayed until after a final report is published by the Competition Commission (CC) on airport ownershi

A PUBLIC inquiry into expansion plans at Stansted Airport has been postponed by the Government.

The inquiry was due to start on April 15 but will now be delayed until after a final report is published by the Competition Commission (CC) on airport ownership.

Although that is expected to be no later than March 28, the delay is aimed at giving airport owners BAA the chance to react to the report.

The CC has already recommended that BAA - who also own Heathrow and Gatwick - sell two of its London airports because of fears of monopolisation. As a result BAA has already put Gatwick up for sale.


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Communities and Local Government secretary, Hazel Blears (who initiated the inquiry process and has the final say), has written to all parties involved to inform them of the delay.

In the letter, she said: "I am certain that we should neither be seen to second-guess the contents of the final Competition Commission report, nor the response of the airport operator until after it has had time to consider its findings and implications."

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Although a new date has not been set, it is widely expected to be mid-summer, with an announcement made within four weeks of the publication of the final CC report.

The inquiry - into proposals for a second runway and terminal - is expected to last 18 months.

That would mean it will be ongoing during the next General Election, leading to the possibility that the expansion of the Essex airport may be scraped altogether.

A spokesman for BAA said: "We note the decision by the Government to temporarily defer the start of the Stansted inquiry. As the CC's investigation concludes in March, we recognise that Hazel Blears has decided that delaying the inquiry may be the best way of preventing long term damage to delivering this important infrastructure development project.

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