New row over passenger cap

PUBLISHED: 15:19 29 March 2007 | UPDATED: 10:15 31 May 2010

ANTI-airport expansion campaign group SSE has accused BAA of making a thinly veiled, eleventh hour attempt to salvage its appeal at the public inquiry into its expansion. But the airport operator has defended its decision to change its application, whic

ANTI-airport expansion campaign group SSE has accused BAA of making a "thinly veiled, eleventh hour" attempt to salvage its appeal at the public inquiry into its expansion.

But the airport operator has defended its decision to change its application, which was originally to remove altogether the passenger cap limiting 25 million passengers to pass through Stansted each year.

It is now asking for a passenger cap of 35 million passengers to be put in place in relation to the existing runway, although this would not alter its original plans for 264,000 Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) at the airport per year.

SSE director Carol Barbone, said: "BAA's sudden change of heart is a thinly veiled, eleventh hour ploy on BAA's part to attempt to salvage and expedite its appeal."

A letter from the airport operator's lawyers to the inquiry inspector sets out concerns that examination of higher passenger throughput levels would complicate the inquiry.

This is because of the need to consider more serious impacts such as road traffic congestion, rail services, aircraft noise, landscape, carbon emissions, air quality and health.

The airport operator is reserving the right to put in a future planning application for more than 35 million passengers per year.

"BAA is trying to cross the river in two jumps to minimise the incremental impact at each stage, but this makes a mockery of any sensible approach to planning and local democracy," added Ms Barbone.

A BAA spokesman said the decision was a pragmatic one.

"We are offering a passenger condition of 35 million passengers per annum as we consider this demonstrates a positive and pragmatic approach to addressing a key concern raised by a number of those who are objecting to our planning application," he said.

Uttlesford District councillors unanimously refused BAA's application in November and the public inquiry is due to begin on May 30.

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