Opponents pour scorn on Boris Johnson’s plans for four-runway Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

POLITICIANS and campaigners have poured scorn on Boris Johnson’s proposal that a huge new four-runway airport should be built at Stansted.

The Mayor of London yesterday put forward the idea as part of a list of three options for finding an alternative to Heathrow Airport.

Mr Johnson has long been opposed to a third runway at Heathrow.

The other sites proposed are the Isle of Grain on the Hoo Peninsula in north Kent and an artificial island in the middle of the Thames estuary, which has become known as Boris Island.

The report stated that Stansted offers the “attraction of building on existing infrastructure and being sited in a relatively sparsely populated region”, and that it “has none of the environmental or wildlife issues that would need to be overcome in the estuary”.

Mr Johnson’s plans, which he said would generate more than 375,000 new jobs by 2050 and add £742bn to the economy, will be submitted to the Davies Commission into the UK’s air capacity later in the week.

He said: “Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us. Those cities have moved heaven and earth to locate their airports away from their major centres of population, in areas where they have been able to build airports with four runways or more.”

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But Mr Johnson’s inclusion of the Essex airport on his shortlist has led to strong reaction from opponents of the idea, who described them as “absolutely scandalous” and from “cloud cuckoo-land”.

MP for Saffron Walden, Alan Haselhurst, who has Stansted Airport in his constituency, said the construction of extra runways at Stansted would be an “environmental disaster”.

He said: “I don’t think Boris Johnson could have been here or else he would be aware of the natural beauty around Stansted. It’s absolutely scandalous that he’s suggesting expanding here. The idea that there would be no environmental impact is bizarre.

“Boris has talked about building on existing infrastructure but apart from a terminal building and one runway, what does he mean?

“There has been no investment in the rail infrastructure over the years and apart from the M11 there are no real road connections.

“Stansted currently employs 10,300 people. Where will all the housing go for all those other people that are being talked about?”

At the Stop Stansted Expansion pressure group, economics advisor Brian Ross said the sheer size of what is being proposed rules out Stansted.

He said: “Mr Johnson’s plans are for an airport twice the size of Heathrow that would need a new town the size of Peterborough to service it.

“Boris is living in cloud cuckoo-land and it gets annoying - he flies these kites and meanwhile people living near Stansted get nervous. They get worried about things like whether they should move or whether they should put their child in the local school.”

Harwich MP Bernard Jenkins, who is chair of the unofficial all-party group for the Thames Estuary Airport, said the best option was an airport in the Thames Estuary.

He said: “A airport there would be on the route of the existing high-speed rail link to London and Brussels, and would be on the right side of London.

“We need to build it in conjunction with other mayor pieces of infrastructure such as second Thames Barrier and a third Lower Thames Crossing

He said: “We need to see an end to this patch and mend airport policy. We’ve already built a world-class airport on an island in Hong Kong. We need to be bold and come up with the right plans once and for all.”