HC Deb 04 August 1965 vol 717 cc1683-4
26. Mr. Boston

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement about the site for the proposed third airport for London.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

In its Report published in March, 1964, the Interdepartmental Committee on the Third London Airport concluded that Stansted would be the best site. As already announced a public inquiry into the proposal is to be held towards the end of this year.

Mr. Boston

Can the Minister say anything about the report that the Isle of Sheppey has been under consideration as a possible alternative? Will he confirm that in any negotiations the Island Development Committee and other local bodies concerned will be brought in?

Mr. Jenkins

The Island of Sheppey was considered by the Ministry of Aviation, when it conducted its survey into the matter, as a possible alternative site. It has some disadvantages. It conflicts with the Shoeburyness Range, it conflicts with the continued existence of Southend as an airport and it is not a very easy area for access by public transport from London. But it will be quite competent for the inquiry to consider this and other possible alternative sites if they are advocated by people appearing before it.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

In the meantime can the Minister tell us what steps he proposes to take to try to see that greater use is made of Gatwick, which is inadequately used?

Mr. Jenkins

I am determined in the period between now and the development of the third London airport, whether it is at Stansted or elsewhere, to get a better spread of traffic between Heathrow and Gatwick. I am anxious to do that as far as possible by voluntary means, and the national interest here and the interest of those living around different airports are involved to such an extent that I hope that voluntary means will succeed, but I would not rule out having to take firmer measures.