COUNCILLORS should back the expansion of Southend Airport rather than worrying about political point-scoring, MP James Duddridge told the Commons.

Speaking in the adjournment debate, Mr Duddridge who represents Rochford and Southend East, said he had opposed the third runway at Heathrow and also the proposals for an airport in the Thames Estuary, known as Heathrow-on-Sea or Boris Island.

He went on: “Whatever it’s called, it is a rehash of the Maplin Sands proposal of the 1970s and it is wholly and totally inappropriate.

“However, I fully support the expansion of Southend Airport. That may appear contradictory, but the expansion of the current facilities at Southend would be very positive for the town and surrounding area.

“It would make Southend a successful regional airport with the capacity to serve one or two million passengers and so similar to Southampton.

“The town’s economy is heavily interwoven with tourism and a fully functioning passenger airport would provide a major boost to the town. The airport already employs 1,300 people. Expansion would create at least another 1,000 jobs, but my gut feeling is that there would be a great deal more.”

The airport has been taken over by haulage company Eddie Stobart and the planned expansion would see the runway extended across Eastwoodbury Lane.

People living under the flight path are worried about the extra noise.

Mr Duddridge said the final decision on the expansion of the airport would rest with councillors in Southend and Rochford.

Keith Hudson, Rochford district councillor responsible for planning, said the preferred option for both Rochford and Southend councils was for airport expansion.

The councils were now looking at the answers back from the public consultation on that option and a final action plan would go to the Secretary of State and finally a public inquiry.

However, he warned: “Although local councillors may like to think they make the final decision, it is in fact made by a Government inspector after the public inquiry.”