HC Deb 26 June 1972 vol 839 cc981-3
9. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he is now able to state his intentions regarding aircraft movement at night at Luton Airport in the summer of 1973.

49. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reductions he expects in night movements at Luton Airport in 1973.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

I am pleased to tell the House that the Luton Corporation and the Luton airline operators have decided to reduce aircraft movements at night in the summer season of 1973.

Following discussions with my Department, it has been agreed that the limit on ordinary night jet movements in the summer season next year will be reduced to 3,650, of which not more than 1,440 will be take-offs. This compares with the expected 4,500 night jet movements, of which 1,890 will be take-offs, in the current year. The Corporation has further decided that, in view of the expected operation at Luton next year of the much quieter TriStar aircraft with its Rolls-Royce RB211 engines, provision should be made for an additional 340 movements by that aircraft, of which not more than 170 will be take-offs.

I welcome these decisions as a significant contribution to our objective of reducing noise disturbance. It represents a reduction of some 24 per cent. in the number of less quiet take-offs at night between 1972 and 1973.

Mr. Madel

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his reply. I am sure he appreciates that there is a growing desire in my constituency that the same summer night restrictions as exist at Heathrow and Gatwick should also be applied at Luton, especially when many in my constituency work in continuous noise throughout the day. Given that Foulness airport will not be operational for some time, can my hon. Friend say how he could further reduce night jet noise at Luton till Foulness is operational, which will then take away some of these night movements from inland airports?

Mr. Heseltine

I hope that my hon. Friend will accept my assurance of my interest in this matter. We are looking forward to the introduction of the much quieter TriStar aeroplane next year, and this is bound to be important in helping my hon. Friend's constituents. I agree that one of the factors which must help particularly is the opening of the new Maplin Sands airport as soon as possible

Mr. Allason

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on achieving the first reduction in aircraft movements that has ever been achieved with Luton Corporation and congratulate him upon the pressure he put on the corporation? If my arithmetic is correct—and I am not sure that it is—this appears to be only a 5 per cent. reduction in night movements in the next year compared with 1971, and that after a very considerable growth in previous years. Something a great deal more dramatic is required to protect the sleep of those who are living under the flight path.

Mr. Heseltine

I am sure my hon. Friend will forgive me for not having with me the comparative figures for a year ago. I was dealing with the current year. What we must do is to achieve a down turn of the graph, which has been rising quickly, and certainly as compared with 1972 the number of night take-offs is reduced by 24 per cent. The actual numbers are: 1972, 1,890: and the estimate for 1973 is 1,440.

Mr. Mason

While I recognise that this is one method of reducing noise around an airport, for which the hon. Gentleman is responsible, and in the immediate vicinity of Luton, which will welcome this announcement, may I ask whether he can inform the House to what extent he has received any deputation from the tour operators' study group which is particularly keen that night flights should not be curtailed because of the adverse effect on holidays abroad?

Mr. Heseltine

The right hon. Gentleman raises one of the conflicting issues in this matter. One realises, in doing the sort of job for which I am responsible, that there is a balance of convenience. In direct answer to his question, I would say that I have personally received no such deputation.