HC Deb 04 April 1985 vol 76 c735W
Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list his powers to determine policy on airports by way of special development orders.

Mr. Michael Spicer

None. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has the power under section 24 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 to make special development orders (subject to annulment by either House of Parliament) which may provide for the grant of planning permission for the developments specified in the orders.

Mr. Hirst

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his policy on Scottish Lowlands airports.

Mr. Ridley

Last summer, in consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland, I commissioned a review by officials of the two Departments of policy for the use of the Scottish lowland airports (Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick). Treasury officials and staff of the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority also took part in the review.

I am placing in the Library of the House copies of the report of the working group which carried out the review. The report identifies econonic benefits to airlines and their customers, the financial effects on the BAA, and the social and environmental disadvantages to others which a change could entail, but does not make any recommendation for a change in the policy.

The Government have decided that for the present there should be no change in the policy under which Prestwick is designated as the gateway for long haul air services to and from Scotland. This is in line with the recommendation of the Scottish Affairs Committee in its first report of the 1984–85 session. At the same time we are very concerned at the decline in traffic at Prestwick in recent years and at the level of operating losses which have been experienced there. We are anxious tht the situation should not continue indefinately and therefore wish to see every effort made by those who want to preserve Prestwick to improve its economic performance. We look for a steady improvement in the airport's financial results as a result of such efforts, and to this end the freeport should help.

If however a change in the fortunes of Prestwick does not come about by 1989, the decision to maintain the existing policy will have to be reconsidered.