Last summer the Government published a set of seven consultation papers on the future development of air transport in the United Kingdom.On 27 February 2003,
Official Report, columns 25–26WS, I informed the House of publication of the second editions of the main South East consultation paper, the summary South East paper and the questionnaires for both the South East and other areas of the UK.
The consultation paper highlighted the potentially significant risks of birds colliding with aircraft at the option for a new airport at Cliffe and advised that further work would be commissioned. The Government gave a commitment to publish this further work during the extended consultation period.
I am today therefore publishing the study which I commissioned and which was undertaken jointly by the Central Science Laboratory and the British Trust for Ornithology. The study provides a detailed assessment both of the populations, movements and behaviour of birds at and around the site and the risks of birdstrike after applying mitigating measures to a new airport at Cliffe. The key conclusions are:
Without a comprehensive and aggressive bird management programme in place, incorporating careful and considered airport design, appropriate habitat management and active bird control, an airport could not operate safely in this location.
Even with such world class management and mitigation measures in place, the hazard posed by the birds is severe and would probably be higher than at any other major UK airport.
I will consider these conclusions carefully together with all the consultation responses, before announcing my decisions in the air transport White Paper later this year.
The consultation, for all parts of the UK, will close on 30 June.
Copies of the study are now available in the Library. My officials will also distribute the study to key stakeholders, and it will be posted on my Department's website.