STANSTED Airport chiefs claim the proposed expansion of London's third airport to cater for 25m passengers a year is essential as the existing facilities will soon be too small to meet passenger demand.

The airport says the currently approved capacity of 15m passengers will start to run out in just one year's time.

Local MP Sir Alan Haselhurst this week told the Citizen that he was "uneasy" about the scheme and its future implications.

The plans would mean increasing the number of flights and extending the existing terminal as well as other facilities such as parking, aircraft facilities and office accommodation, and improving the rail, coach and bus stations

But BAA denies the scheme will require a second runway, more night flights or expansion outside the existing airport boundaries.

And it says that more than 7,500 jobs will be created.

Uttlesford Council will now examine the proposals which may be 'called in' for inspection by Department of Transport Local Government and the Regions Secretary Stephen Byers.

A deadline of October 15 has been set for comments to be sent to the council which will enable an interim report to be produced.

The council's senior development control officer, Jeremy Pine, said the application would be dealt with in the same way as any other planning proposal and a decision could theoretically be made 16 weeks from now.

But he felt it would probably continue well into next year because a large number of objections were likely.

The application and BAA's technical report are available for inspection at the council's offices in Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden, Thaxted Community Information Centre and libraries.

A summary document will soon be on the website