HC Deb 23 July 1952 vol 504 cc529-30
46. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that recent instances of low flying and the taking off and landing of aircraft very near to built-up areas in the Hellesdon, Catton and other districts close to Norwich, have caused considerable disturbance and anxiety to residents in those neighbourhoods, especially to the sick and to children; and if he will have an immediate investigation made with a view to preventing a recurrence or at least ensuring a lessening of the number of these incidents.

Mr. Ward

As I explained to my hon. and gallant Friend in my letter of 27th June, I have every sympathy with the residents in this area. The training of our fighter pilots is essential to the defence of this country, however, and short of closing the airfield at Horsham St. Faith, there is no way of preventing low flying there.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the Minister aware that the people of Norfolk are very conscious of the vital need for this flying training and are indeed grateful to these young men who are risking and unhappily often losing their lives in their efforts to be trained for our defence; but, in regard to this particular aerodrome, is it not a fact that in the flying funnel there are schools containing some 2,000 children and a great deal is to be said for extending the runways away from the city altogether?

Mr. Ward

Yes, but there is no question of extending the runways towards the city.

Mr. Paton

Is the Minister aware that this is a long-standing danger and nuisance? Must the people of Norwich wait until there is some dreadful accident involving the lives of its citizens before something is done to stop this?

Mr. Ward

We have every possible sympathy with the inhabitants of Norwich, but Horsham St. Faith is a highly important tactical and strategical airfield necessary to the defence of England, and the low flying there is caused by aircraft taking off and landing, which cannot be avoided.