Stansted: Anti-expansion campaigners brand Boris Johnson’s airport plans “bonkers”

CAMPAIGNERS have reminded Boris Johnson that he’s the mayor of London, not East Anglia, after he suggested that a 24-hour four-runway hub should be developed at Stansted.

During a meeting with business leaders at City Hall, Mr Johnson openly criticised the government for delaying new runways and repeated his opposition to Heathrow expansion.

The London mayor, who has previously been associated closely with proposals for an airport hub in the Thames estuary, also made it clear that he saw expansion of Stansted as the only other viable option.

But those fighting against the growth of the Essex airport described Mr Johnson’s intervention as “nimbyism” and criticised him for meddling in issues outside his jurisdiction.

Speaking days before the Conservative conference, Mr Johnson said the government had been “bewitched” by lobbying from the owners BAA and said the prime minister already had abundant evidence to make a decision on new airport capacity in the south-east, rather than await the verdict of the Howard Davies commission set to report in 2015.

He said BAA’s plans for a third Heathrow runway would mean “not only introducing further suffering to hundreds of thousands of Londoners but new suffering to thousands more.

“I say to BAA and BA, forget it. It will not be built. No mayor of London could conceivably accept it.”

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But Brian Ross, Stop Stansted Expansion’s Economics Adviser, said: “Boris needs to remember that he is the mayor of London, not of East Anglia. Stansted is not in his jurisdiction and he should not be interfering in something that is not his business.”

Mr Ross described Mr Johnson’s proposal of a four-runway Stansted as “bonkers”, and added: “If there was genuine market for an expansion at Stansted it would not be losing 1 million passengers a year.”

Stansted currently lies a distant third behind Heathrow and Gatwick in terms of passenger numbers and was recently overtaken by Manchester as Britain’s third-busiest airport. BAA, its owner, is being forced to sell Stansted on competition grounds.

Mr Ross said it was a “disgrace” that Mr Johnson was interfering in the lives of people who cannot vote for or against him.

He added: “This is just a clear of case of nimbyism and what he is saying is creating uncertainty and fear in whole communities.”