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Heathrow (Fifth Terminal)

Volume 77: debated on Monday 15 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the extent of his responsibilities in relation to the decision on the application for the construction of a fifth terminal at Heathrow.

My right hon. Friend has responsibility for overall policy on the future of Heathrow, but it is my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment who will take the decision on the existing application from Uttlesford district council.

Will the Government attach great weight to the strong feelings of large numbers of people around Heathrow, not just about aircraft noise, but about the huge traffic jams, to which the inquiry inspector had no satisfactory answer?

The feelings of the local people and the travelling public will be given proper weight in our considerations. The inspector made a number of recommendations for improvements to the roads in the vicinity of Heathrow. He also recommended that a working party be set up to study the improvements required to provide a satisfactory highway network to serve the airport, regardless of whether a fifth terminal is constructed. I assure my hon. Friend that those recommendations will be carefully considered.

Does my hon. Friend accept that for many years the people of Ealing and west London have suffered unbearable aircraft noise and pollution as well as the traffic congestion to which my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) referred, and that a fifth terminal would make life intolerable and must be resisted at all costs?

I cannot comment, as I think my hon. Friend knows. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction will make their decision as soon as they can.

Will the Minister accept that the development of a fifth terminal will act as a positive incentive for regional airline operators such as Ecosse Air, which now flies from Carlisle to London? Because of the success of the airline on that route, will the Minister put it to Ecosse Air that the people of Cumbria need a jet link from Carlisle to London? Will the Minister support that principle?

I have noted very carefully what the hon. Gentleman said, but, as I said earlier, I am afraid that in the light of the decision to be taken on the Eyre inquiry I cannot comment further.

What representations have been received by the Department of Transport from those living in the area around Heathrow? Is my hon. Friend aware of the deep concern about the environmental impact of a fifth terminal on an area of the green belt which is already under severe pressure?

Just as the inspector at the inquiry was well aware, so also are we well aware of those representations. However, I cannot comment further. All the representations will be borne in mind.