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Airports Policy

Volume 984: debated on Monday 12 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will update those sanctions of the 1978 White Paper on airports policy dealing with general aviation requirements in the South-East in view of the subsequent changes in the pattern of road and airport developments in the area.

No, Sir. I do not think that there have been sufficient changes to justify another study of the situation being made at the present time.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the apprehension felt by the Bromley residents federation and by a number of my constituents at the proposed intensification of business flying at Biggin Hill? As the M25 has been constructed in the two years since the White Paper—one of several new factors—would it not make sense to think increasingly in terms of West Mailing as an alternative airport for at least some of these business jets?

My hon. Friend keeps me well aware of the anxiety of his constituents. I met members of the Bromley residents federation in mid-March. Although the M25 has progressed since 1978, its completion was envisaged then. There is nothing new about that. In my opinion, there are substantial environmental advantages for residents in the area around Biggin Hill in having a well-managed business airfield rather than leisure and club flying taking place at its present level.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that he is not casting covetous eyes on Biggin Hill airport and that he will not allow the British Airports Authority to do so either? Will he support the continued retention of the airport by Bromley council?

I will be the last man under your eyes, Mr. Speaker, to confess to the sin of covetousness. I certainly do not covet Biggin Hill; and neither does the British Airports Authority. I am very happy with the way in which the borough is going about the business of managing it.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are insufficient facilities for business aviation in the London area? Is he further aware that of the London airports only Gatwick and Stansted have all-weather 24-hour facilities? Will he try to ensure that even more services are made available for business flying in London?

Yes, it would be my objective to ensure that there is a major all-weather business aviation terminal on the north and south sides of London to serve the city.