HC Deb 23 July 1952 vol 504 cc530-1
47. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if his attention has been drawn to recent incidents where aircraft have crashed on or near to built-up areas, and having regard to the number of air stations which are situated within close range of large cities and other centres of population, and the dangers inseparable from taking off and landing, he will now review the siting of these particular stations with a view, where possible, to moving them away to airfield sites remote from towns and cities, many of which are at present lying derelict.

Mr. Ward

I very much regret that my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion is operationally impracticable. Those airfields which are not now being used or developed are either unsuitable by modern standards or are so situated that they would not meet operational needs.

Brigadier Medlicott

Was it not rather unfortunate that, at the end of the war when it was possible to make decisions in these matters, many of the airfields quite close to great built-up areas were retained and other airfields in the open country were allowed to become disused?

Mr. Ward

There are many factors which enter into the choice of an airfield. We have looked very carefully at all of them, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the airfields which remain derelict remain so because they are either in the wrong places as far as the R.A.F. is concerned or are unsuitable for rehabilitation.

Mr. Paton

Is it not a fact that the reason why these airfields in Norfolk cannot be used instead of the aerodrome at St. Faiths is simply that the Treasury will not face the cost? Are we to balance the cost to the Treasury against the possible loss of life in Norwich?

Mr. Ward

That is not the case. The sort of factors which are taken into consideration are technical ones, such as the contours of the land, the suitability of the subsoil and obstructions to flying approaches.