Without a doubt there is a need for new runways in the South East.
Apart from Maplin Sands, Stansted was also looked at as a third London airport and was rejected. It would be interesting to look at the relevant report and compare the traffic predictions for 2008-10 with the actual figures. I do not remember the principal reasons for rejection but some are possibly still valid. It should be pointed out, however, that Stansted has indeed been expanded much more than was probably anticipated – very much by stealth.
Of course, when the public enquiries were held for Maplin Sands and Stansted Mayor Boris was still in his cot so will not remember the enquiries.Any repetition of those enquiries would be wasteful, time consuming and expensive. I insist, though, that meteorological (fog and winds etc.) and wild life habitats (destroying them or causing increases in bird strikes) are still very much valid arguments against the Maplin madness.
Initially, until proven otherwise, I would be in favour of permitting Stansted, Gatwick and Luton to expand to two parallel runways. This would provide runway capacity which should be sufficient to cover any crisis – such as accidents. Runway closure due to weather I think is a question for the airlines which are reluctant to end up with aircraft “out-of-place”. That can be solved if the airlines (or their alliances) have infrastructure at more than one airport but it is something which cannot be legislated.