Lilley to challenge Transport Minister over airport expansion

- Tuesday, 11th February 2003

 

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, will meet John Spellar, the Transport Minister with responsibility for aviation policy, on Wednesday 26th February to discuss expansion proposals for Luton Airport. Mr. Lilley will emphasise Luton?s unsuitability to become an airport the size of Gatwick and the overwhelming opposition from local residents to the expansion plans.

Peter Lilley said:

"John Spellar has agreed to a meeting with me on Wednesday 26th February ? though not, as I had hoped, with members of LADACAN. He has, however agreed that I can invite other MPs from the local area who are also concerned about the plans to over-expand Luton.

"I shall emphasise the fact that this is not a simple case of NIMBYism. Many of my constituents might accept gradual expansion of Luton so long as reductions in aircraft noise offset the increase in flights and improvements in public transport and traffic management offset the growth in passengers using the airport. But a five-fold expansion could not remotely meet these conditions. It would mean a jumbo jet a minute over Hitchin and Harpenden; the amount of road building required would destroy prime Hertfordshire countryside; and the existing rail link to Luton could not cope ? especially as Thameslink 2000 seems to have been shelved for the foreseeable future.

"I will argue that previous projections for airport growth have been wildly exaggerated. The 1971 Roskill Report, which was the last major review of airport capacity, predicted two and a half times the actual growth for London airports over the last thirty years. Why should the government?s projections be right this time?

"Moreover, if such huge growth is to be accommodated it should be focussed at hub airports to limit the amount of cross country traffic by transit passengers catching onward flights. No one seriously believes that Luton could become a hub airport. Even the argument that Luton needs the extra jobs is undermined by the government?s own forecasts which show that the number of jobs would shrink once hub airports like Stansted come fully on stream.

"I look forward Mr. Spellar?s response to these points when we meet in a fortnight?s time.?

 

 

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