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New International Airport

Volume 973: debated on Wednesday 14 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department has carried out a survey of the environmental impact of a two-runway international airport at any of the six sites short listed by the Advisory Committee on Airports Policy.

I understand that environmental implications are being taken into account by the study group on South-East airports, whose report, together with the views of the Advisory Committee on Airports Policy, is expected to be submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade shortly.

Has my right hon. Friend discovered any means of costing the environmental loss which the foundation of a new international airport would undoubtedly cause at any one of the six sites short listed, so that this can be compared with the other factors which are no doubt to be costed in the advisory committee's report?

I am unable to comment on what detailed work has been done on this matter, as we have not yet received the study group's report. However, this and other considerations will obviously become of great interest when the report is received and when any further action that may flow from it is considered.

Will the Minister abandon the idea of a third London airport, for environmental and other considerations, and accept that it would be much more sensible and much cheaper for a Government committed to public expenditure cuts to look at a regional alternative? Will the Minister consider Liverpool and Manchester in terms of taking the trade and business that would come to a third London airport, because Manchester can take 6 million passengers per year, and is taking only 2 million now?

While we obviously have a close interest in the environmental implications concerned, that question should more properly be directed to the Secretary of State for Trade.