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Airport loan curbs eased

TRANSPORT MINISTER John Reid plans to lift restrictions now preventing local authority-owned airports from raising private finance for expansion work.

Proposals are contained in a consultation document published by the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions last week. The move is expected to stimulate a boom in airport extension work.

Reid is expected to seek parliamentary approval for the plan which should come into force from next April.

The new proposals will not allow councils to guarantee the repayment of loans. But banks will be able to seize control of projects if a council is unable to repay.

The move follows pressure from council-run airports such as Manchester. Under its 500M integrated transport plan, it needs to raise private finance to supplement spending funded through profits.

Liverpool Airport is planning a 20M expansion programme after winning an 8M grant from the European Union's Regional Development Fund this week. Work involves expanding the main terminal, car parking and handling facilities, increasing passenger capacity to 2M a year.

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