THE expansion of Southend Airport has been backed by the Essex Federation of Small Businesses.

The pressure group has said the expansion, which includes extending the runway across Eastwoodbury Lane, will bring extra business and visitors to the area.

Bosses published their own policy paper with a number of recommendations for the airport. They said roads surrounding the area must be improved and paid for by the airport before the expansion of the airport and the business park takes place.

It also suggests that a minimum of 25 per cent of contract value should be given to Essex-based firms, as well as sufficient parking and a park-and-ride scheme for future employees at the airport and business park.

Terry Taber, chairman of the south east Essex branch of the business association, said: “Essex FSB supports the principle of expanding London Southend Airport as bringing extra prosperity to the area and attracting new businesses and visitors.

“The policy paper is based on business needs and does not reflect the interests of residents outside the economic benefits.

“We wish to see the projected 7,000 additional jobs being ones that are appropriate for the local community and that suitable education and training is provided to enable local people to successfully fill such jobs.

“In addition, we wish to see the environmental impact of the project minimised, including the use of local firms during the construction phase and then to provide goods and services so the carbon footprint is reduced and the revenue is retained in the local economy.”

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