Media reports that ministers will ‘call in’ airport operator BAA’s application to build a second runway at Stansted have been dismissed as speculation.

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government, which can review planning decisions by local authorities, said no decision had been taken on the issue.

BAA unveiled its planning application for a second runway in March, prompting six local authorities in Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire to voice their opposition – including Uttlesford District Council which has Stansted in its borders.

The proposal would increase capacity at Stansted from the current 25 million passengers a year to 38 million by 2016 and 68 million in 2030 – putting the airport on a par with Heathrow today.

However, passenger numbers at Stansted have fallen by 1.6% in the past year to 23.4 million. Low-cost capacity at the airport appears to have peaked and Stansted has lost a series of long-haul services due to airlines failing and carriers moving flights to Heathrow.

The DCLG pointed out a local planning decision is not expected until September. The department is headed by secretary of state Hazel Blears.