HC Deb 06 December 1971 vol 827 cc907-10
1. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he is satisfied with the programme of night flying at Luton Airport for 1972; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Michael Noble)

The proposed programme for 1972 will be finally determined by Luton Corporation after considering the views of the airport consultative committee. I have already announced my intention to consider more stringent restrictions at Gatwick, Luton and Manchester on and from the summer of 1973.

Mr. Allason

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the situation in Hertfordshire, where we are at the end of our tether over the intense noise caused by even the existing level of flights at Luton Airport? Since in the past Luton has never taken the slightest notice of the airport consultative committee's views on night flying, does my right hon. Friend feel it is likely that the Luton authorities will take any notice this time, or will they merely go ahead and increase night flying, as they have already announced they intend to do?

Mr. Noble

I am not unaware of these problems and, if I were, it would not be the fault of my hon. Friend, who brings them to my attention two or three times a week. The suggested night flying is below the level of last year and I hope that this may give some relief.

Mr. Madel

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the whole question of night flying and noise around Luton and other south-eastern airports will not be resolved until Foulness is operational? Will he do everything in his power to accelerate the construction programme for Foulness?

Mr. Noble

I agree partly with what my hon. Friend says, but I believe some steps can be taken to help those suffering from noise at night, as we have done at Heathrow, and I hope we may be able to do so in other areas before Foulness is operational. We cannot hope to solve the problem altogether.

11. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to prohibit take-offs by jet aircraft from East Midlands Airport between the hours of 23.30 and 06.00 between 1st April and 31st October, 1972, and thereafter, with provision for exemption in exceptional individual cases where hardship might arise.

Mr. Noble

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost) on 29th November, 1971.—[Vol. 827, c. 8–9.]

Mr. Cronin

Bearing in mind the easement which has been given to the neighbours of Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, is it not unsatisfactory that people in the East Midlands should still suffer this abominable noise at night? Does the Minister look upon the people of the East Midlands as second-class citizens regarding sleep at night?

Mr. Noble

No. The hon. Gentleman will have studied the reply which I gave, which was that the local authorities responsible for both the aerodromes and the people living around them are the people who, in my view, are responsible for seeing that a proper balance is kept between the needs of the area for air services and the difficulty of noise at night, which is infinitely less than in the areas which he mentioned.

Mr. Rost

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the East Midlands Airport is developing rapidly, that it is still at a less developed stage than Luton and that the problem will, therefore, be more serious in future unless firm measures are taken now?

Mr. Noble

Firm measures can be taken at the request of the local authorities as soon as they see that a problem is developing. We have power to do this, but it is not necessary at the moment.

Mr. Buchan

This is a general question. Surely it is not correct simply to say that under pressure from local authorities there will be a change. In the case of Glasgow Airport there has been pressure from immediate local authorities concerned, but the flights continue. This is, therefore, not only a matter concerning Heathrow or the East Midlands; it is a general problem affecting all airports in Britain and the same principle should apply to them all.

Mr. Noble

The same principle applies to them all. The only point where there is a difference is in the designation of airports. We have specifically said that this would take place where noise was a serious problem. If Glasgow, Luton or any other local authority or consultative body asks for this to be taken into account, we will do it.

24. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the effects of his decision to ban night jet take-offs from London Heathrow Airport in the summer season of 1972 upon the number of landings.

Mr. Noble

I expect the ban on takeoffs to reduce significantly the aggregate of 3,500 summer night arrivals and departures hitherto permitted. The precise extent of the deterrent effect on landings by most airlines will not emerge until they have completed the extensive rescheduling which they must now make.

Mr. Jessel

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people warmly welcome his courageous decision to ban night takeoffs at Heathrow during the coming summer season? Is he also aware that many people are also concerned about the noise from landings? Would he continue to look at ways of reducing this nuisance?

Mr. Noble

We will continue to look at the possibility of reducing the nuisance in any way possible. As my hon. Friend knows, however, landings are more difficult. I believe that we will reduce the number of landings simply by the action which we have already taken.

Mr. Bishop

Is the right hon. Gentleman really satisfied that the manufacturers are doing all they can technically to reduce noise and nuisance, and that the Government's support for this in incentives and technical aid will bring about the desired degree of lowering of nuisance in future?

Mr. Noble

I am not satisfied with any of these things, but that is another question.