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British Airports Authority

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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17.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when next he will meet the chairman of the British Airports Authority.

My right hon. Friend and I met the chairman on 12 February. I have no immediate plans for a further meeting.

Is it not extraordinary that, having had so long to think about it, the BAA cannot yet say exactly what land it requires in respect of proposals for the development of Stansted? What measures can my hon. Friend announce to do something to ease the serious problems caused for many people by blight?

The BAA could not win on this. Had it come forward rapidly with plans showing precise details of the land that it wanted to take, it would have been accused of jumping the gun.

As my right hon. Friend explained in February, statutory blight provisions will apply when compulsory purchase orders are published for the 1,500 or so acres which are proposed to be taken for a new terminal building and associated facilities. That will not, however, apply to the wider area of 2,500 acres for which safeguarding from incompatible development is to be sought.

In response to my hon. Friend's representations on behalf of his constituents affected by planning blight but not covered by statutory blight provisions, the Government have decided to introduce a clause into the Civil Aviation Bill now before the House which will confer powers on the BAA to acquire by agreement land which may be required for airport development in future but which is not immediately required for that purpose. That clause will not extend or affect the BAA's existing compulsory purchase powers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] I am sorry to be so long, but the matter is very important to my hon. Friend.

Will my hon. Friend tell the chairman that he absolutely repudiates the suggestion by the Liberal spokesman on the environment, the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross), that consideration should be given to constructing a fifth terminal at Heathrow airport?

The Government have made it absolutely plain that we do not intend to pursue any proposal to build a fifth terminal at Heathrow, even if the Liberal Party presses it on us.