HL Deb 02 February 1972 vol 327 cc806-7

2.56 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I have arranged for the Statement on the Third London Airport which is being made in another place to-day by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to be published in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the Statement referred to:

"The Government have been considering the scope for associating other forms of development with the airport at Maplin and the possibilities of involving private capital. In considering the nature and scale of possible developments, we have had regard to the need to ensure high environmental standards in carrying out the whole undertaking, including the consequential housing and other developments which would be required in South Essex.

"The airport will be a key factor in the success of any wider development at Maplin. It must be built to the highest standards and supported by first-class road and rail links. We are planning to have the first runway by 1980, or earlier if practicable.

"There is no objection in principle to sea port development at Maplin and we are informing the Port of London Authority that they are free to put forward firm proposals for detailed scrutiny under the Harbours Act 1964.

"We do not think it would be appropriate for primary industry such as steelworks, oil refineries and petrochemical works to be located at Maplin, whether in association with a seaport or separately, both on grounds of regional policy and because development of this kind would create serious problems of incompatibility with a large international airport.

"It is too early to take decisions about promoting a large industrial estate as part of the Maplin complex. It would create very real regional problems. We think that options should be kept open and that demand for secondary industry, hotels, offices and other commercial development which may be expected to grow following the opening of the airport should be considered as it arises in the light of our regional, industrial and environmental policies and our developing relationships with Europe. To this end we are examining the engineering, cost and hydraulic implications of a method of reclamation which would allow land to be reclaimed by stages as and when needed.

"We consider that, although it is highly desirable to involve private capital in the Maplin project, the nature of the project, its long time scale, and the crucial issues of Government policy that it raises, necessitate substantial public sector commitment and control. We are giving further consideration to the machinery required and the best means of engaging private capital at the appropriate time.

"Further announcements on these and other aspects will be made in due course."