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Airports, South-East

Volume 181: debated on Monday 26 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further steps have been taken towards identifying possible locations for additional runway capacity to serve the south-east, following the publication by the Civil Aviation Authority in CAP 570 of advice on the adequacy of airport capacity in the longer term.

I announced in July my intention to establish a working group to examine the wider implications of development at airports identified by the Civil Aviation Authority in CAP 570 as likely to be able in air traffic control terms to accommodate additional air traffic. Work has since been going forward on the group's terms of reference, structure and membership.I have concluded that the terms of reference for the group should be:

"To evaluate the wider implications of developing additional runway capacity at the sites identified by the Civil Aviation Authority in Cap 570 as likely to be feasible for such development in air traffic control and airspace terms;
"To have regard to the considerations, including the environmental considerations, which led the Government in 1985 to the view that second runways should not be built at either Gatwick or Stansted; and to the relevance of those considerations at Heathrow and at other airports;
"To test the Authority's conclusions in CAP 570 on the contribution of regional airports, and to gauge the extent to which these airports can play a part in meeting the overall demand into the next century;
"And in the light of these considerations to advise the Secretary of State on the possible courses".

I intend that the group should be chaired by a senior official from my department, and that it should be assisted by four subgroups addressing, for each of the locations identified in CAP 570, the implications for regional development and the environment; for aircraft noise; for surface access; and capital costs, lead times and other practical and technical considerations. The first of these subgroups will be chaired by the Department of the Environment, the second and third by my own department and the last by the CAA.

Invitations to join the working group or one of its subgroups have today been sent to a variety of organisations. We have asked SERPLAN to co-ordinate the local authority input, and have also sought the involvement of the Kent Economic Development Board. To represent the interests of airports we have issued invitations to the Airport Operators Association, BAA plc and the Joint Airports Committee of Local Authorities. We have in particular asked JACOLA to take the lead in assessing the contribution of regional airports. The International Air Transport Association, the International Air Carrier Association and the British Air Transport Association have been invited to represent airlines.

We have asked the Association of British Travel Agents, the British Tourist Authority and the Air Transport Users Committee to represent, respectively, the interests of the travel and tourism industries and of consumers of air services (passenger and cargo).

To ensure a thorough examination of the important environmental implications of airport development we have extended invitations to a number of bodies and organisations. These are the Federation of Heathrow Anti-Noise Groups; the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, the North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association; and the Airfield Environment Federation. We have also invited the participation of the chairmen of the consultative committees at each of the airports in question.

The local management of the different airports have been asked to contribute to the work of the airport technical subgroup, and British Rail and London Regional Transport have been invited to join the subgroup which will consider surface access. Finally, the working group will involve officials from the CAA and from the trade and industry, employment, defence and agriculture departments, as well as from my own department and the Department of the Environment.

I am confident that the expertise of those we have invited will enable the group to engage fully with the many issues it will address. Inevitably, it has not been possible to offer places to all of those wishing to participate. I hope that many of those not included will be able to put views forward through the various representative organisations on the group. I also intend to initiate shortly a wider, written consultation, to ensure the group has access to the views of others with an interest in the issues. The results of this consultation will be an important contribution to the group's work.

Once we have heard from those invited to join the group arrangements can go forward for the first of the meetings. I expect this to take place early next year.