HC Deb 16 May 1973 vol 856 cc1484-6
7. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to take any decisions from the environmental point of view regarding the proposed construction of a new airport at Foulness, in the light of the Civil Aviation Authority's report on airport facilities in South-East England.

Mr. Rippon

There is no change in the decision we have already taken to develop the third London airport at Maplin.

Mr. Wilkinson

Why is there this Gadarene rush to get the decision through when all informed surveys and objective analyses show that there is not such a crying need for this project? The demand for runway space is not as great as forecast. The reduction in noise will take place anyway by the mid-1980s because 70 per cent. of the total number of aircraft using London airport will be wide-bodied, quiet-engined types. Therefore, on environmental grounds surely there is no need to construct the attendant environmental new towns, environmental seaports, environmental motorways and other such intellectual dishonesties which are a part of the project.

Mr. Rippon

I cannot accept my hon. Friends various assumptions. We determined the principle on Second Reading and I must leave the matter there. The CAA report did not deal with the noise and environmental problems to which my hon. Friend has referred. The House agreed with my view that it was vital to do something to relieve noise nuisance around London Airport and other existing airports. I receive many representations about it. As for quiet aircraft, it is worth bearing in mind what we are saying. Many people who now suffer this noise nuisance will, instead of having the continuous effect of a pneumatic drill outside their houses, have the equivalent of 40-ton lorries.

Mr. Oakes

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the concern in the Press and among the public about this enormously costly scheme, and the question of its necessity? Is he further aware that his hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State said in Committee that he was considering approaching the Noise Council on the question whether there would be any substantial diminution of noise around Gatwick and Heathrow even if Maplin proceeded? Cannot the right hon. and learned Gentleman delay the Third Reading of the Bill until there is a report on noise, which is the main matter that this House should be considering in respect of such an enormous expenditure of public money?

Mr. Rippon

The factor of noise is very important, and we shall certainly consult the Noise Council about the likely effect. But the general proposition about the need to relieve people of noise around existing London airports is still unexceptional.

Mr. Harden

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that one of the main advantages of the Maplin proposals is that hundreds of thousands of people who now suffer day and night from aircraft noise-especially those living round Gatwick, many of whom are my constituents—will receive some relief from it?

Mr. Rippon

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right in that view.

Mr. Jay

Will the Government publish full details of the proposed motorway and rail links from London to Maplin before the Third Reading of the Bill?

Mr. Rippon

These matters are being discussed in Committee. Certainly it is our intention to give as much relevant information as possible at the earliest opportunity.