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Airports (Development)

Volume 891: debated on Monday 28 April 1975

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28.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement about the future development of Teesside Airport.

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received on the airport development recommendations made by the CAA, in particular on the future of Teesside Airport; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) on 16th April.—[Vol. 890, c. 131.] It would not be appropriate to make a statement about Teesside Airport in advance of the consultation document on regional airports to which I referred.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the very strong feeling on Teesside at the rejection by the Civil Aviation Authority of the findings of the Northern Airport Study, which cost £25,000, that Teesside Airport should be developed? Is he aware that the growth of the steel and petrochemical industries on Teesside will provide a vast demand for an airport of the size recommended by the independent study? Will he bear these points in mind when considering the findings of the Civil Aviation Authority?

My hon. Friend will appreciate that the recommendations of the CAA are persuasive and not conclusive. The other factors to which he has adverted will be taken into account when we make our final decision on the matter. If my hon. Friend is suggesting that an application for assistance is to be produced, I must tell him that we could consider that only if the criteria are satisfied that the airport must be indispensable to the national air transport system and that the burden of running it is more than the local community can reasonably be expected to bear.

Will my hon. Friend make those comments to the Conservative-controlled Bradford Metropolitan District Council, which is about to embark upon £7 million expenditure on the Leeds—Bradford Airport? Will he dissuade it from embarking on this expenditure, which will be a very heavy burden for the ratepayers of the area?

That local authority, just as any other, is well aware of the fact that we are engaged in a review. It is not for me to deflect it from its course by any order or power I may invoke. It is aware of the situation, and if it seeks to embark upon its course before a national airports policy is promulgated that is a matter for the council itself.

The views expressed by the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) will command wide support throughout the region on an all-party basis.

There are many people outside the hon. Member's constituency who will very much hope that the factors he has put before the Minister will be taken fully into account when the matter comes finally to be decided.

The hon. Member has made his constituency point. I have nothing to add to the answer I have already given.

Will my hon. Friend accept that the references by the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) to the views of the region are contrary to those of many of us in the North-East? Some of us are extremely concerned at the threat posed in the report, about which I was delighted to hear my hon. Friend's sceptical comments, to the airport of the regional capital, Newcastle. Many of us would be anxious if anything that his Department did prejudiced the development of the city's airport.

My hon. Friend has made a similar point in principle to that made by the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) a few moments ago. I can add nothing to what I have already said. All these considerations will be taken into account.