Waite speaks out over Stansted expansion

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The Independent Online

Campaigners attempting to prevent the expansion of Stansted airport planted flags in a field in Essex yesterday where a second runway is likely to be built.

They were joined by the former church envoy Terry Waite, who warned that the expansion of the airport could lead to "unbroken concrete" in the south-east of England.

Campaigners aim to create a wood in the field, which is part of a farm that has been in existence for about 400 years, as part of their protest against the expansion and have marked the runway line with flags.

Mr Waite said the Government was pressing ahead with plans for Stansted expansion despite opposition from major airlines, environmentalists and planning inspectors.

"If we are not careful what we will have is unbroken concrete from Stansted to the south coast," he said. "When you see the countryside where they are proposing to build the second runway it is incredible. It wasn't until I saw those flags that I released the reality of what would happen."

Mr Waite, who spent almost five years as a hostage of Islamic radicals in the Lebanon while working on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, said development of the airport would not affect him personally but he was concerned that some of England's richest countryside would be lost.

Campaigners, who will challenge the Government's expansion plans in the High Court later this year, say scores of houses in villages near Stansted would be bulldozed and thousands of people would suffer from an increase in noise and pollution.