HC Deb 14 February 1977 vol 926 cc7-8
3. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade by what criteria he decides on flight paths for aircraft take-offs.

Mr. Clinton Davis

The main criteria which I have to take into account are safety, technical and economic factors, and the importance of minimising nuisance from noise to people on the ground.

Mr. Jessel

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, while the present split in the Mole Valley take-off flight path has brought some welcome relief to Hampton and Hampton Hill, it has made conditions unbearable for many people in Whitton, Twickenham, Teddington and Strawberry Hill, as he knows from the 400-plus complaints that he has received from my constituency, which has been more affected than any other? Will he examine what can be done to relieve those places? Will he consider sympathetically any scheme to do so that does not add substantially to the noise in Hampton and Hampton Hill?

Mr. Davis

As the hon. Gentleman well knows, there is a division of opinion among his constituents. I am prepared to consider any reasonable proposals that are forthcoming. We want to arrive at the best solution of a difficult problem that will benefit all those who are affected by aircraft noise.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the hon. Gentleman also take into account in the selection of routes the approach of saturation level from the point of view of many people on the ground? Does he agree that the growth in movements and the projected growth from Heathrow are such that we should be re-examining the question of a third London airport at Maplin?

Mr. Davis

The question of the third airport at Maplin, which was not commended by the vast majority of those in the House, does not arise from this Question. As for the first part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary question, that is a consideration that is relevant to our deliberations on this matter.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Is my hon. Friend aware that many on the Benches behind him are getting a little sick and tired of the pettifogging tactics of some Opposition Members who are trying to gain cheap publicity? Does he appreciate that the best advice we could give him, were he to ask us, would be to continue with the policy of giving encouragement to quieter aircraft engines so that the problem can be tackled fundamentally and not in the nit-picking way that is advocated by certain Opposition Members?

Mr. Davis

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's advice. I shall come to him whenever I think it appropriate to seek his advice. The experience of the Government in dealing with noise at London and other airports has far exceeded the value of the work done by their predecessors, as is indicated by the clear evidence that is now on the record.