Government admits second runway will not be feasible without improved public transport.

The government has admitted that controversial plans to enlarge Stansted airport will not be able to go ahead unless there is substantial improvement in public transport access to the site.

Last week BAA revealed in more detail its £2.7bn plans for a second runway, a new passenger terminal and a new control tower at the Essex airport, enabling it to handle up to 76 million passengers a year.

Spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham told the Lords: "It is clear that the expansion of Stansted Airport, which is still very much at the consultation stage, cannot take place without significant improvements in public transport."

Essex county council leader Lord Hanningfield said he feared that the entire expansion plan would be funded on car parking charges. The Tory peer added: “It is already the largest car park in Europe. Surely we need a decent train service to Stansted before any further extension is considered?”

Meanwhile local homeowners opposed to the airport expansion have failed in their bid to enlarge the compensation scheme for properties that would be adversely affected by noise from the second runway. Residents, led by Takeley Parish Council, had hoped that 12,000 – rather than 500 – homes would be liable for compensation, but Mr Justice Lloyd Jones ruled the case “unarguable”.