A big new international airport is to be built 36 miles (59 kms) east of London to take some of the capital's rapidly increasing air traffic.
A big new international airport is to be built 36 miles (59 kms) east of London to take some of the capital's rapidly increasing air traffic. The official announcement came today after lengthy inquiries into possible sites. Local preservation societies spent GBP25,000 opposing the selection, but many local tradesmen welcomed the decision.
Costing GBP46 million and sited at Stansted, a rural town in the County of Essex, the new airport will relieve the congestion at the capital's two other airports at Heathrow and Gatwick. London's air traffic is expected to increase five-fold by 1980.
Stansted already has a small airfield, but this will be developed to take airliners of the future, including the 500 seat "jumbo" jets. Announcing the new airport, Mr Douglas Jay, Minister in charge of British civil aviation, said work on the terminal buildings would be started first, probably in I968-69. Two runways would come later, with the possibility of two more after 1974.
A high speed link with London by monorail had been examined, but this would cost much more than a new rail link. No decision on this had yet been taken. Another link would be by road, with a two mile (3 kms) spur joining a motorway.
The journey to central London from Stansted will take about 70 minutes, compared with 45 minutes from Heathrow.
Stansted had seemed the most likely site for a third airfield when the inquiry first opened. The other likely site was the Isle of Sheppey, 50 miles (80 kms) away from London in the River Thames estuary. But Sheppey was rejected on the grounds of cost GBP132 million.
Local preservation societies banded together to fight the selection of Stansted. Tiny villages, with names like Molehill Green, are now threatened by the bulldozer, and the preservationists argued that apart from the destruction of these small rural hamlets, about 5,000 acres of some of the best beef farmland in Essex would be lost. They raised GBP25,000 and employed some of the best legal brains in the country to argue their ease at an inquiry, but now it seems their battle is lost.