March 13, 2009 / 10:14 AM / 11 years ago

REFILE-UPDATE 2-UK Stansted airport expansion challenge fails

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By Tim Castle

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - Protestors objecting to the expansion of Lon don’s Stansted Airport lost a legal challenge on Friday against a government decision to allow flight capacity to rise by 10 percent.

The High Court in London rejected the objection by the Stop Stansted Expansion lobby group, saying their complaint was “unjustified and without substance”, the Press Association reported.

The protest group had argued the government had broken the law by disregarding the increase in aircraft noise, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions caused by the expansion.

The group said it was disappointed in the decision and it would seek permission to appeal the ruling because the decision could have an impact on an inquiry due to start in April on plans for a second runway at the airport.

Stansted Airport Commercial Director Nick Barton said the decision was good news for passengers, airport employees and local businesses.

“The decision secures our future and ensures we can continue investing in the airport to deliver sustainable improvements in the passenger experience and airline operations through modern facilities and better service standards,” Barton said.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said in October that the airport, owned by BAA, a subsidiary of Spain’s Ferrovial (FER.MC) would be able to raise flights to 264,000 a year from 241,000.

The maximum number of passengers allowed to use the single runway airport in Essex, east of London, would climb to 35 million a year from 25 million.

The move overruled a decision by local councillors who had refused permission because of noise and environmental concerns.

In December environmental activists briefly stopped flights at the airport when they climbed over security fences and occupied the runway.

Britain’s antitrust regulator has told Ferrovial to sell Stansted as well as its London Gatwick and Edinburgh airports to break its hold over the country’s airports. (Editing by Hans Peters and Karen Foster)

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