HC Deb 14 November 1973 vol 864 cc485-7
5. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the Council for the Protection of Rural England on the subject of the third London airport at Maplin.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

The Council for the Protection of Rural England has expressed the view that a third London airport is needed and that Maplin is the best site for it.

Mr. Jessel

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is highly significant that the Council for the Protection of Rural England has expressed a clear view in favour of Maplin, because without Maplin there would be an intolerable expansion of aircraft movements and aircraft noise at the existing London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, which would damage rural life in Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and North Essex, as well as life in urban areas such as my constituency?

Mr. Griffiths

The council most certainly drew attention to the possible effects on those areas, but, in fairness, it went on to say that Maplin is the best place not because it raises no environmental problems—some are inevitable, whatever site is used—but because the use of this offshore site and the routeing of aircraft over the sea which it makes possible reduces the environmental damage to a minimum.

Mr. Oakes

Will the Minister say whether he has received any representations from the council for the rest of England—namely, the Cabinet—in view of yesterday's announcements and a 13 per cent. bank rate?

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. and learned Friend has promised that a full review of this matter will be placed before the House, and I am quite sure that it will be.

22. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress made to evaluate the economic viability of the Maplin seaport.

Mr. Peyton

The Port of London Authority has not put forward detailed proposals for a seaport.

Mr. Douglas

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this matter is becoming increasingly disturbing? Does he accept that by the time this port comes into being the whole pattern of the carrying of oil to existing refineries and, perhaps, to new refineries will have altered because of the increasing estimates of yield from the North Sea? Will he undertake to get the information from the Port of London Authority and the National Ports Council and make models and other information available to hon. Members before the Government in any way firmly make up their mind on this matter?

Mr. Peyton

No, Sir. It is for the Port of London Authority first to decide if and when it wishes to put forward proposals for a seaport. It is for the authority to reach a judgment on the general market situation as it sees it.

Sir Bernard Braine

Is my right hon. Friend aware that whatever the viability or otherwise of this project the Maplin Development Authority has already held a Press conference before representatives of local interests have been appointed, as the Act requires? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the need for local public opinion to be carried with this project? Will he say when these people will he appointed to the board?

Mr. Peyton

I do not know about appointments to the board. I appreciate my hon. Friend's anxiety to see that there is plenty of local consultation, and that, I assure him, there will be. As yet, I have not received detailed or formal proposals from the Port of London Authority. I cannot say anything or move until I receive those proposals.