HC Deb 09 November 1955 vol 545 cc1835-7
28. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware of the large number of derelict buildings on disused airfields in all parts of Norfolk and the weed-infested waste ground alongside and in between runways; and if he will arrange for the derelict buildings to be removed, the land put into good heart and the sites tidied up without further delay.

Mr. Ward

Nearly all undeveloped land on the disused airfields in Norfolk still held by Government Departments is let to farmers. Any complaint of failure to cut weeds is brought to their notice and I will willingly look into any particular case to see if more effective action should be taken. We have recently reviewed our requirement for reserve airfields and all buildings on those which we must keep will be pulled down if they are not worth maintaining.

Sir F. Medlicott

Is the Minister aware that many of these airfields are a distinct interference with agriculture, over the broad scene, and are a blot on a very beautiful county? Is not it possible to decide whether these runways are ever likely to be used again, in which case could not they be kept in better shape? If they are not likely to be used again, could not they be returned to agriculture by being broken up as soon as conditions allow?

Mr. Ward

There are a very large number of airfields in Norfolk and some of them, as my hon. Friend knows, are still held by Government Departments, either because we are using them now or shall need to use them in the event of another war. Some airfields have been wholly derequisitioned, others have been partly derequisitioned, and most of them are, as fully as possible, used for agricultural purposes. The cost of tearing up the runways on the airfields which we have derequisitioned would be enormous. I think it has been estimated that to tear up the foundations of the buildings alone would cost about £25,000 or £30,000 per station. However, as the hon. Gentleman knows, terminal compensation is paid under the Compensation Act, 1939, when we derequisition.

Mr. Edward Evans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the same considerations apply, perhaps with greater force, to some areas of Suffolk where there is an appalling waste of land through derelict airfields, and the deterioration of the buildings is quite catastrophic?

Mr. Ward

There is very little waste of land that has not actually got concrete on it.