My Lords, the Government are not in the business of predict and provide. We are committed to developing a new policy framework for the whole of UK aviation which supports economic growth and addresses aviation’s environmental impacts. The Department for Transport expects to publish passenger demand forecasts later this year to support the development of the framework.
My Lords, since the Government claim to be the greenest Government ever and have announced the construction of a high-speed railway line, will they also take forward their airline policy by restricting demand so that the CO2 emissions are reduced with the use of less environmentally polluting means?
My Lords, we have given a lot of consideration to these issues. I have talked about the South East Airports Task Force; there is also a wider, long-term, more strategic study. However, we will not make any significant increase in airport capacity in the south-east.
My Lords, I should declare an interest as a long-term supporter of the campaign to stop expansion at Stansted Airport. The Minister will therefore get great support from me for his statement that the Government are not in favour of a predict-and-provide policy. However, does he accept that the effect of long-term uncertainty about airport expansion at various points, and certainly at Stansted, has been a blight on the surrounding areas? Will he use his and the Government’s best efforts to prevail on the British Airports Authority not to hang on to property that it owns in those areas, thereby making the blight worse?
My Lords, I was delighted to see the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, rise, because I anticipated some support from her. The property issues surrounding Stansted are a matter for BAA. She also asked about uncertainty. During my research on this Question, I could not find 1 zeptogram of a suggestion that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State was going to change the policy.
My Lords, in the Minister's Answer to the Question he referred to the Government bringing forward their proposals for aviation at the end of this year. Will those proposals address the needs of general aviation, and will they bring forward a framework to revise the 1982 aviation Act?
My Lords, most of the study relates to commercial aviation, not general aviation. The noble Lord will be aware that a future airspace strategy study is under way, which will improve the planning of flights from the continent to UK airports. It will also impact on general aviation, but I hope not in a negative way.
My Lords, does the Minister hope that his watchword—that this Government do not project or provide—runs right across Government? Does it extend to other Governments? Does he think, for instance, with regard to airports, that the Dutch, French and Spanish Governments are taking the same negative approach to the question of air traffic?
My Lords, does the Minister agree that aviation is one of the most successful industries in this country? In the light of what he just stated, what are the Government doing to grow it, or does he propose to reduce it? Can he also explain how much is saved by forcing more and more business from Heathrow to Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt? What is the saving in green terms?
My Lords, can the Minister confirm that in all the countries that have constructed high-speed railways, the demand for domestic air transport has declined significantly? Therefore, if the Government are determined to build High Speed 2—as I very much hope they will—they are perfectly entitled to rescale down the projected demand for domestic aviation in the United Kingdom.
Does the Minister agree that in view of the fact that 90 per cent of freight and passengers will always go by road, it might be sensible to finish our motorway system first, and ease the blockages and the huge amount of pollution caused by them, before we get on with any vanity high-speed rail?