Plans to double the size of the UK's third busiest airport are to face opposition from six local authorities representing 3.2 million people.
A second runway at Stansted would put "unbearable strain" on local services, according to authorities in Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire which pledged to "vigorously campaign" against a proposed expansion announced last week by the airport operator BAA. Uttlesford District Council – which covers Stansted – has been asked for permission by BAA to build the runway and a second terminal, although a final decision will almost certainly be made by ministers following a public inquiry. If approved, the £2.5bn development would open in 2015 and serve 68 million passengers a year by around 2030.
The county councils in Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk, and district councils serving Braintree, East Hertfordshire and Uttlesford, said a second runway was "unwanted and unnecessary". Local politicians announced they were forming a cross-party group named Councils Opposing a 2nd Runway (CO2) and called on the Government to "totally rethink" its aviation strategy.
Matthew Knowles, a spokesman for the Society of British Aerospace Companies, said the expansion was designed to meet demand from the public for flights that would bring money into the economy.