HC Deb 29 April 1953 vol 514 c2146
55. Mr. Renton

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what steps he is taking to ensure that grass growing between runways and land that can be cultivated on Royal Air Force aerodromes is put to the fullest possible agricultural use.

Mr. Ward

During last winter, the Air Ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, carried out an individual examination of the agricultural use being made of every airfield under its control. The airfields in active use by the Royal Air Force comprise some 170,000 acres, of which about half cannot be cultivated for one reason or another—for example because they are covered by concrete runways. Some agricultural use is made of virtually all the remaining 85,000 acres and my noble Friend has the possibility of intensifying this agricultural use constantly in mind.

Mr. Renton

Is my hon. Friend aware of the possibilities of developing commercially the drying of the grass which grows inevitably in the strips between runways on aerodromes? Will he say what conclusions he has reached upon that matter?

Mr. Ward

Yes, we have examined that matter recently, and, as a result, flying restrictions have been modified where possible to permit a reduction of the width of the grass safety margin to perimeter tracks and runways.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

May I ask whether in connection with aerodromes in Scotland the hon. Gentleman will consult the Secretary of State for Scotland on this agricultural matter?

Mr. Ward

Yes, Sir. We have worked very closely with the Department of Agriculture in Scotland..