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Watchdog committee warns government must invest in road and rail infrastructure for Stansted Airport

M11 Junction 8/8a. General Views. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (7117795)
M11 Junction 8/8a. General Views. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (7117795)

The government has been warned to finance road and rail links before air travel takes off at Stansted.

The Department for Transport is seeking feedback on its newly-published green paper which outlines proposals to update its aviation strategy over the next three decades.

The document sets out the challenges and opportunities for the industry to 2050 and beyond and emphasises the significance of aviation to the UK economy and regional growth.

A final white paper version of the aviation strategy will be published by the middle of 2019 after 16 weeks of consultation and civil servant Toby Eccles, the head of London airport policy, told members of Stansted Airport’s Consultative Committee (STACC) that it was concerned with broad principles and would not detail the infrastructure required to deliver sustainable growth at individual hubs.

STACC chairwoman Shena Winning questioned why surface access for Heathrow was considered in the document but not for Stansted which faced issues with the M11’s capacity and the reliability of the West Anglia rail line into London.

She told Mr Eccles: “We here have been exercised about surface access and will continue to be.”

Stansted’s chief executive, Ken O’Toole, said that the airport had a longstanding commitment from the government to improve rail access to London Liverpool Street and he wanted its delivery cemented into the new strategy, observing that in the five years since agreement was reached “nothing much has happened”.

STACC member and Uttlesford District Cllr Jackie Cheetham said the knock-on effect of growth at the airport on traffic on the M11 had been “horrendous”.

She said: “We need joined up thinking from government if they allow an airport to expand.”

She said the “tinkering” planned on the M11 to accommodate growth at Stansted to 43m passengers a year was “not good enough” as evidenced by the chaos caused when a crash occurs on the motorway.

Cllr Graham McAndrew, a member of Bishop’s Stortford town, East Herts district and Herts county councils as well as STACC, warned: “Money needs to be spent on both trains and the M11 and needs to be spent relatively quickly.”

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