ANOTHER runway at Stansted airport may not be the best way to meet demand for airport capacity, according to Harlow MP Bill Rammell.

A national newspaper has reported that the west Essex airport could get an additional runway as part of Government plans to expand airport capacity in southern England. According to the report, Stansted is "virtually certain" to get an additional runway because the surrounding area has a relatively sparse population.

The airport also has good links with London because of the M11 and the Cambridge to Liverpool Street rail line.

The newspaper said Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is due to publish a consultation document within the next few weeks and a final decision will be published in a white paper at the end of the year.

The document will set out policy on the issue for the next 30 years.

Mr Rammell said: "I think Stansted is good news for the local economy and jobs and I'm supportive of the current expansion, but building a second runway goes far beyond that and is something we would have to look at very carefully. I would also like to see significant consultation.

"However, at the moment this is all speculation. There's nothing on the table and we need to be very cautious. I'm not convinced another runway is the way forward but there clearly is a need for additional airport capacity in Britain."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "All of this is continuing speculation and Stansted is an obvious target. The Government will be holding a consultation later this year about what should be done about the increased demand on air travel over the next 30 years and how much should be met and where."

June 21, 2002 16:00