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  1. ITV Report

Heathrow decision sparks fresh calls for airport expansion in the East

Video report from ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard

There are fresh calls for airport expansion in the East of England, after the Government revealed plans for a third runway at Heathrow.

Some business leaders have criticised the decision for a lack of vision, saying it fails to utilise the existing capacity of airports such as Stansted, Luton and Southend.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has said Stansted and Gatwick should both be allowed an extra runway - although that seems unlikely.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary backs an extra runway at Stansted. Credit: PA

There are calls for other airports to make the most of their existing runway capacity to help cope with passenger demand over next 10-15 years, before a new runway can be completed at Heathrow.

Luton Airport says rail links are the major limiting factor in expanding capacity and must be improved.

Stansted says relaxing current planning constraints would allow it to serve up 20 million more passengers - almost twice as many as it does at present.

Many council support the idea, saying it is vital to make most of international trade opportunities after Britain leaves the European Union.

There are calls for other airports to make the most of their existing runway capacity. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Stansted and Luton are the fourth and fifth biggest airports in Britain - both can both take many more passengers without more runways.

Stansted, in Essex, is 30 miles from central London and saw 22.5 million passengers through its terminal last year.

It has planning permission to grow to 35 million - an increase of more than 50%.

Airports are rapidly expanding across the East of England. Credit: ITV News Anglia

There are also big plans for Luton Airport, which is just 27 miles from London and 12.3 million passengers last year.

It has now topped 14 million on its latest figures and is expected to expand to 18 million by 2020.

It will take at least 10-15 years for the new runway to be completed. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Despite being a comparatively smaller airport, Southend is expanding rapidly. It had just 4,000 passengers in 2010 but is now seeing nearly a million.

Norwich Airport has also seen a rise in passenger numbers in the past five years up to nearly half a million last year.