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Airfields (State Acquisition)

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he is now in a position to state what airfields in the United Kingdom are to be acquired by the State for civil aviation.

A preliminary list of these airfields has now been prepared and I will, with permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say for how long this country is to be without an international marine airport conforming to modern standards?

When the report is circulated will it be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to indicate what the development is likely to be, and whether these airports to be taken over will become derelict by reason of non-activity, which seems to be forecast in official circles?

No, Sir. No actual date can be given. Much depends on the availability of labour and materials, but no airport will be allowed to become dere- lict pending the bringing into operation of fuel services.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary in his report show which aerodromes have been paid for by the Government when they acquire them?

This is an intention to acquire. Some have already been acquired; others come under an intention to acquire.

Following is the statement:

In the White Paper on British Air Ser vices published in December, 1945, it was announced that the State would own and operate the aerodromes used by regular air transport services. The selection of suitable sites for these aerodromes is and will continue to be a long and difficult task. It has been and is being undertaken in close consultation with British European Airways with the object of providing for the country a planned network of air services designed to serve the nation's needs.

A preliminary list of aerodromes outside the London area, which area needs to be considered separately and to which this note does not therefore refer, has now been prepared as set out below, together with the names of the main towns which each aerodrome is intended to serve. Many of the aerodromes will be used on a joint basis with the Service Departments and aircraft manufacturers. Much work has to be done to many of these aerodromes before they can be ready for the operation of regular air services and, in addition, it will, of course, be necessary, where this has not already been done, to extend to them the network of radio and air traffic control services.

The object is to provide safe and regular services and not to rush aerodromes and aircraft into ill-prepared use. Services, when they are introduced, must be dependable and, generally speaking, those which fill a social or commercial need that other forms of transport do not satisfy, must be introduced first. Bearing these facts in mind, together with the shortages of manpower and materials, particularly for building purposes, it would be unwise to attempt to indicate a date by which the whole of these aerodromes will have been brought into use, but the work will be pressed ahead on a properly integrated plan.

AberdeenDyceAlready in use by regular services.
AngleseyValleyDiversionary airport.
BelfastNutts CornerAlready in use by regular services.
BenbeculaBenbeculaAlready in use by regular services.
BlackpoolSquires GateAlready in use by regular services.
Brighton, Hove and Worthing.Shoreham
BristolLulsgate BottomWhitchurch will continue to be available at any rate for a time.
Cardiff(1) Pengam MoorsPengam Moors will continue to be used tor the ferry services across the Bristol Channel.
(2) Llandow
CampbeltownMachrihanishAlready in use by regular services.
CarlisleGreat OrtonCrosby is being used temporarily by regular services.
EdinburghTurnhouseAlready in use by regular services
Glasgow and ClydesideRenfrewAlready in use by regular services.
InvernessDalcrossLongman aerodrome is being used at present by regular services but transfer to Dalcross will be made as soon as practicable.
Isle of WightRyde
IslayPort EllenAlready in use by regular services.
KirkwallHatstonAlready in use by regular services.
Leeds and BradfordYeadonSubject to further technical investigation showing that the aerodrome can be improved to the necessary standard.
LiverpoolSpekeAlready in use by regular services.
ManchesterRingwayAlready in use by regular services.
Newcastle and North- East England.New siteCroft is intended for temporary use pending the development of a new site. The site provisionally selected is at Boldon south of the projected Tyne Tunnel. It lies however on coal-bearing land and further technical investigation is necessary before the selection of the site can be confirmed
North UistSollas
OrkneysSee below.
PenzanceCuldroseSt. Just aerodrome is now in use by regular services and will continue to be so used until a transfer to Culdrose is possible.
PlymouthHarrowbeerThe permanent use of the aerodrome is subject to Parliamentary approval in view of Commoner'" rights.
PrestwickPrestwickAlready in use lor regular services.
Scilly IslesSt. Mary'sAlready in use for regular services.
Sheffield and DoncasterDoncaster
ShetlandsSumburghAlready in use for regular services.
SouthamptonEastleighAlready in use for regular services.
StornowayStornowayAlready in use for regular services.
SwanseaFairwood Common
TireeTireeAlready in use for regular services.
Weston-super-MareWestonAlready in use for regular services.
WickWickAlready in use for regular services.

The provision of air services to additional places, as, for example, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including the Orkneys inter-island services, is contemplated, but detailed surveys of the sites provisionally selected are necessary before their suitability can be determined. Some of the landing grounds used before the war are much too small for medium-type aircraft, which will provide a faster and more efficient service, and the best means of serving these places requires further examination.

The introduction of air services direct from certain aerodromes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to the Continent is intended as aircraft become available and the aerodromes can be suitably improved and equipped. Additional sites will be announced from time to time as their acquisition becomes necessary for further expansion of air services.