HC Deb 05 November 1979 vol 973 cc38-9W
Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is Government policy to destroy the wooded area in the British military sector of Berlin at Gatow Heide; how many trees will be affected; what consultations have taken place with Berlin people; and how many planes arrive at the adjacent military airport in an average week.

Mr. Pattie

I can assure the hon. Member that it is not Government policy to destroy the wooded area in the British sector of Berlin at Gatow Heide. The total wooded area at Gatow Heide comprises about 280 hectares. For flight safety reasons, it has become necessary to fell or lop those trees which infringe flight patterns in an area of about 14.75 hectares. The total number of trees, including saplings, in this area is about 33,000.

The representatives of the Berlin people have been fully consulted over the tree clearance programme. In a statement on 1 November, the governing mayor of Berlin confirmed that this measure had been discussed fully with the Berlin Senate; that it had proved possible to reduce the measures by agreement to the minimum necessary for the safety of air traffic; that the Senate plans recultivation measures for the cleared areas, and that no recreational area will be lost. In his statement, the governing mayor also paid tribute to the protection which the allies guarantee for Berlin, which, he said, should not be forgotten when measures necessary to maintain permanent operational capability had less pleasant consequences.

During an average week 25 planes arrive at RAF Gatow.