Runway inquiry faces nine-month delay

PLANS to build a second runway at Stansted Airport have been grounded for at least nine months, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday). Communities Secretary John Denham – the man who replaced Hazel Blears – said it is neither feasible nor realistic to

PLANS to build a second runway at Stansted Airport have been grounded for at least nine months, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday).

Communities Secretary John Denham - the man who replaced Hazel Blears - said it is "neither feasible nor realistic" to begin the second runway inquiry until after BAA has been to the appeal court.

Owners of Stansted Airport, BAA, announced in May their intention to appeal against the Competition Commission's (CC) ruling that states it must sell three of its seven airports.

In an open letter, Mr Denham said: "Whilst there is no set timetable for the appeal process, I understand that it might take around nine months to complete.


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"I remain committed to ensuring that there will be a minimum of eight weeks notice between my formal announcement and the start date of the inquiry."

The CC ruling says that BAA has to sell Stansted, Gatwick and a Scottish hub. They will make their appeal to the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

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Stansted Airport's Commercial and Development Director, Nick Barton, said: "We note the secretary of state's decision to delay the start of Stansted G2 public inquiry, and will proceed as and when the Government decides that it is right to do so.

"This announcement does not alter the fact that new runway capacity is urgently required if the United Kingdom is to preserve its global economic competitiveness, and the case for a second runway at Stansted remains a strong one."

Leader of Uttlesford District Council, Cllr Jim Ketteridge, welcomed the decision and was pleased that Mr Denham had listened to the council's representations.

He added: "This will mean any possible start date will now almost certainly be beyond a general election."

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Peter Wilcock, said: "I am disappointed that John Denham does not see fit to cancel any thought of a second runway at Stansted and put many people out of their misery, and allow people to enjoy their communities free of the blight of possible airport expansion.

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