HC Deb 15 July 1974 vol 877 cc25-7
22. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his policy regarding the development of regional airport facilities in Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.

52. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on his policy for the development of regional airports.

Mr. Shore

It is my objective to encourage the greater use of regional airports in general. The Civil Aviation Authority is presently undertaking a series of studies of regional airports and I expect to receive its advice on these later in the year.

Mr. Renton

While that study is being undertaken will the Secretary of State bear in mind the example of France and Germany, where far greater use has been made of regional airports in association with the distribution of industry through- out the country than has happened in Britain? Will he also bear in mind that if regional airports are not developed and if Maplin is not built, this is likely to lead to a far greater flow of passengers through Gatwick than was envisaged when the South-East strategic plan was prepared? The CAA has forecast a figure as high as 35 million passengers a year. Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that if this were to materialise it would lead to far greater increases in population, with stresses on housing and education, than the strategic plan allowed for?

Mr. Shore

On all these very large consequences which may flow from a decision one way or the other on the future of Maplin I must resist commenting until I have made the statement about which I have already told the House. On the other point raised by the hon. Gentleman, there is undoubtedly a benefit to regions arising from airports. They help industry and industrialists, as we well know. I shall certainly ask my Department to have a look at the experience of other countries, including France, as the hon. Gentleman suggested.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Will my right hon. Friend realise that rather than concentrating air traffic in the South-East and having a third London airport we should build up airports in the regions? Will he take into account the representations that have been made recently by three Glamorgan authorities about the Rhoose airport in South Wales?

Mr. Shore

I would indeed wish that more of our air journeys both originated and ended at regional airports. There is, however, a problem that there appears to be an unusually heavy weight of air activity, as it were, originating in the South and South-Eastern parts of Britain. That is the heart of the problem. I shall certainly look at the contribution that regional airports, including the airport mentioned by my hon. Friend, can play in the future.

Mr. Allason

As the proposals for the Midlands include two large airports rather than six small ones to obtain greater efficiency, is there not a grave danger in the Birmingham case of creating another environmental disaster on the scale of Cublington? Is it not clear that future airports should to a large extent be on the coast?

Mr. Shore

The hon. Gentleman is referring to the report that has recently been published on regional airports in central England. The report has been published, but we have not had the views of the Civil Airports Authority upon it and we are far from reaching any general view as to the future strategy for regional airport policy. We will take account of all points, including those the hon. Gentleman mentioned.

Back to
Forward to