asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how far his Department has proceeded with its studies of a heavy lift airship for cross-channel freight; and what conclusions he has reached on the Mowforth Report;(2) whether he is prepared to conduct research into and consider further studies designed to transfer by conventional airship or otherwise freight and motor vehicles across the Channel or the North Sea to the Continent;(3) whether he has considered the feasibility of the circular planform lenticular cross section displacement aircraft for cross-channel transportation; and if he will make a statement.
I have been asked to reply.
My Department has received papers from and held discussions with several companies and individuals concerned with future airships for freight carrying, including Dr. Mowforth. So far, however, the Department has not seen any proposals for airship design construction and certification backed by sufficient research and investigation for studies of the airship's economics to be made. The costs of operation of freight airships are, therefore, not yet known with enough accuracy for comparisons to be made with other forms of transportation, and without such comparisons it is not possible to undertake the studies envisaged by the hon. Member. My Department, will, however, continue to pursue these matters with the organisations concerned with the promotions of airship design.