BAA finally gives up on new south-east runways

Government opposition prompts withdrawal of planning applications for Heathrow and Stansted

BAA, the operator of Heathrow and Stansted airports, is to withdraw its planning applications for additional runways at each site. It said on Thursday that it would also stop buying land to facilitate the expansion plans.

The moves follow confirmation by the incoming Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition that it opposes further expansion of airport capacity.

The issue of airport expansion has been a huge political issue since plans were announced to virtually double capacity at Heathrow in 2007 (ENDS Report, December 2007). Both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have opposed the plans in opposition as inconsistent with the UK's legally binding carbon budgets, favouring high speed rail as an alternative. Residents have also fought a long and bitter campaign against expansion.

BAA has also struggled to show that its plans would not lead to unacceptable increases in air and noise pollution, a key condition for expansion (ENDS Report, January 2009).

Despite throwing in the towel, BAA reasserted that it believes new airport capacity is needed in the South East.

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