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Raf Northolt

Volume 264: debated on Monday 23 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what conclusions he has reached about the sharing of runway capacity by civil aircraft at RAF Northolt; what discussions he has had with the Ministry of Defence on this matter; and if he will make a statement. [36462]

Consultation with business aviation users this summer demonstrated a positive reaction to shared use of the newly commissioned facilities at RAF Northolt. As outlined in the 1995 competitiveness White Paper, my Department is currently working closely with the Ministry of Defence to identify further ways of enhancing the service offered.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is concern in my constituency that the sharing of runways at RAF Northolt could result in increased traffic noise? Will he give me an assurance that, in the event of sharing, there will be no increase in the permitted number of air traffic movements at Northolt?

I am indeed aware of the local concern that my hon. Friend has expressed to Ministers in my Department on several occasions. The station continues to operate on the basis of 7,000 movements a year.

Will there be any consultation with people in the locality with regard to further aircraft movements, particularly civil airline movements, because that part of London already suffers excessively from aircraft noise?

Yes, of course; local opinion will be taken into account in connection with any plans to change the use of the airport.

Local residents feel most strongly that the current limits should be maintained, as my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Sir M. Shersby) has said, and that the existing operating hours for civil air transport movements should be kept at 0800 to 2000, with no weekend operation.

I am aware of the strong feelings in the area, which are well represented by my hon. Friend. As I said a few moments ago, we will, of course, ensure that local opinion is taken into account when we look at any future use of the airport.