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Government tables10 new runway options for the South East

TEN MAJOR runway construction projects are under consideration in the South East, the government revealed this week.

The proposals are contained in the Department for Transport's (DfT) The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East consultation document, published on Tuesday.

They include a new runway at Heathrow, three at Stansted, one at Luton and five at a new airport at Cliffe in north Kent.

Ministers will be asked to consider a series of runway construction option packages from the following:

A new runway at Heathrow

A new runway at Stansted

Two new runways at Stansted

A new runway each at Heathrow and Stansted

Three new runways at Stansted

Four new runways at Cliffe.

'The amount of underlying demand by 2030 that we are forecasting is large enough to consider expanding Heathrow and also developing a second South East airport into a hub, ' says the study.

Of major airports in the South East only Gatwick would definitely be left alone over the next 30 years.

Feedback from the consultation will go into the government's Aviation White Paper expected in the Autumn. This will explore how the UK can meet a doubling in demand for air travel from current levels of 180M passengers a year to an estimated 400M by 2030.

At Heathrow a £4.2bn 2,000m northern runway would relieve the two existing runways of smaller craft. It would boost capacity from 89M passengers a year after Terminal 5 is complete in 2008 to 116M and be worth £7.8bn in net benefits.

At Stansted up to three 3,000m runways costing a total of £5.2bn could boost current capacity of 35M passengers a year to 122M by 2030 and be worth £12.6bn in net benefits according to the DfT The first would be 3km to the east of existing one, the second just to the west, and the third next to the first additional runway. This could require new rail lines into London and Norwich and a further upgrade of the M11.

At a new airport at Cliffe on the north Kent coast there would be four 3,000m runways costing £8.9bn but with a net benefit of £8.4bn.

Another low noise runway for night time use was also appraised as part of the Cliffe proposal. The first two runways would open in 2011, boosting capacity to 77M passengers a year. Another two runways would boost capacity to 113M a year by 2030.

Cliffe is favoured over unnamed alternatives because of 'availability of land, good transport links to London, low numbers of affected residents and potential 24 hour operation'.

Replacement habitats for birds and other affected wildlife would be part of the project.

Elsewhere in the South East Luton's airstrip could be replaced with a 3,000m runway and a former military airfield at Alconbury near Huntingdon could be developed into a small low cost passenger and freight airport.

The studies were developed for the DfT by consultants including Halcrow, Scott Wilson and Arup. Consultation will last for the next four months.

INFOPLUS www. airconsult. gov. uk

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