Airport operator BAA this week submitted a planning application to build a new runway and terminal at Stansted, despite not yet knowing whether the Government will approve the capacity increase.
BAA has put in its application prior to hearing the outcome of last year's public inquiry into maximising the use of the existing runway (SG1), which would mean passenger numbers increasing from 24 million to 35 million a year by 2015.
"We expect to hear about SG1 in the next couple of months," said BAA director of Stansted Generation 2 (SG2) Alastair McDermid. "The application for SG2 was originally going to be submitted last summer on the assumption and, to be honest, the expectation that we will get approval for G1. The timing is not suspicious."
The new runway would mean passenger numbers would double again to 68M a year by 2030.
The plans submitted today include a second rail tunnel and fourth platform for the airport's railway station.
The plans are in line with current Government aviation policy. Last month transport secretary Ruth Kelly asked the Highways Agency to look into the widening of the M11 around Stansted airport and Network Rail to examine improving the London to Cambridge line to deal with the airport's possible expansion.
Some sustainability issues have been incorporated in the plans. BAA has pledged to not increase carbon dioxide emissions or water use from 2006 levels. It has also launched a nature conservation and landscaping scheme to try to reduce the effects of the development, which includes the destruction of 20 hectares of woodland.
- NCE's Engineering Modern Airports conference takes place in London on 29 May. See www.nceairports.co.uk for details