§ 41. Mr. Rankin
asked the Minister of Aviation whether he has now reached a firm decision on the location of the replacement for Renfrew Airport.
§ 49. Miss Harvie Anderson
asked the Minister of Aviation what plans he has, in the long-term interests of civil flying and the safety of all concerned, for transferring air traffic from Renfrew Airport to Abbotsinch; and when this will be done.
§ The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
I have been considering what airport should be used to replace Renfrew in about three years' time. I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty and a number of bodies representing Scottish opinion and the travelling public in the Clyde Valley. I have also recently visited Renfrew, Abbotsinch and Prestwick. My noble Friend has decided that the Naval Air Station at Abbotsinch should be closed. 28 It will then be taken over by my Ministry as the civil aerodrome for the Clyde Valley.
§ Mr. Rankin
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his decision to supplant Renfrew Airport with Abbotsinch will be very warmly welcomed by the large and increasing number of people at present using Renfrew Airport? [HON. MEMBERS: "No"] Does he not realise, however, that the speed of aircraft development has now greatly quickened? Will he therefore think again about the period of three years which he has just indicated as the time when the transfer will take place and consider trying to reduce it?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I will certainly consider that with my noble Friend, who is also concerned in this matter, but these decisions have to be taken well in advance, and there will be a good deal of work to do at Abbotsinch before it is converted into a civil airport.
§ Sir T. Moore
I am deeply grateful to my right hon. Friend for so promptly seeking, at my request and that of the county council, to see these things for himself, but is he aware that there is a feeling just now in Ayrshire that he may have been misled by Sir Patrick Dollan and his Advisory Council in Glasgow? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, in time, London Airport is about the same distance from Central London as Prestwick is from Glasgow, and that the time could easily be halved by a rapid diesel service? Furthermore, will he remember that Prestwick is still the most fog-free area in the British Isles?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I have received good but slightly different advice on the subject from many quarters, and I have made what I think is the best decision I can.