asked the Minister of Aviation what was the outcome of the deputation to him on 2nd March from London local authorities about heliport sites.
The hon. Member may have seen the agreed communiqué issued after the meeting, which I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that within half a mile or 880 yards of this site live 14,000 to 15,000 residents of Lambeth, Battersea, Chelsea and Westminster, and that the noise and congestion will be even worse if Covent Garden Market moves to this site, unless he will guarantee silent helicopters?
I do not answer for Covent Garden Market. I answer only for helicopters, and I see no prospect of a silent helicopter. If there is to be a heliport in London and the local authorities have no objection in principle to it, inevitably some people are going to live somewhere near the heliport.
Is it not the case that Westlands already has a helicopter station in Battersea, and can the right hon. Gentleman say how many complaints there have been about it in Brixton?
I have not heard of a great number of complaints about the landing of helicopters in Battersea. I am well aware of the noise problem. I keep it very much in mind, and I hope to proceed in full consultation with the local authorities concerned.
Following is the communiqué:
London County Council and Metropolitan Boroughs' Standing Joint Committee Deputation sees Minister of Aviation on Heliports.
A deputation representing the London County Council and Metropolitan Boroughs' Standing Joint Committee met the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Peter Thorneycroft, this morning to discuss their comments on the Report of the Committee on the Planning of Helicopter Stations in the London Area. It will be recalled that, out of the nine sites which they examined, the Helicopter Committee short-listed three possible ones, these being at Nine Elms, Cannon Street Station and St. Katharine Dock.
The deputation represented to the Minister that there was no objection in principle to the establishment in due course of a helicopter station in central London, provided that the noise caused would be kept down to tolerable levels. Unless this could be done the local authorities must strongly oppose the establishment of any helicopter station. The Minister explained that there was no suggestion of setting up a helicopter station for city-to-city travel in the near future, but it was unthinkable that London should be unable to provide such a terminal if such services developed generally in Europe.
The immediate problem was therefore to arrange to safeguard a suitable site by preventing any development incompatible with its use for helicopters. Before such a use was established there would be a full public enquiry when all the circumstances, as then existing, including the question of noise, would be fully ventilated and considered. The representatives of the local authorities emphasised the grave difficulties they would face if no more direct assurance against the effects of noise nuisance could be given.
The Minister indicated that he would now write to the local authorities to the effect that he would no longer wish to ask for the Cannon Street or St. Katharine Dock sites to be held for possible use as heliports as long as consideration be given to safeguarding the Nine Elms site for possible future use for a helicopter station.
It was agreed that the Minister, for his part, and the local authorities, for their part, would further consider the problem in the light of the discussion and consult again.
On the question of a monorail or other direct connection with Heathrow the Minister said that he did not regard this as an alternative to the Heliport but that any method of speeding up travel to Heathrow would obviously be valuable and the Government would co-operate with the planning authorities on the study of this as necessary.