Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Department forTransport
    From the Minister of State
    Great Minster House
    76 Marsharn Street
    London SWIP4DR

    Tel: 020 7944 3082

    The Rt. Hon Peter Lilley MP
    House of Commons

    E-Mail: john.speIlar@dft.gsi.gov.uk

    Our Ref: JS/036252/02

    8 JAN 2003

    Dear Peter,

    You wrote to me on 20 November about the airport consultation and options for expansion at Luton.

    As you know, the context has changed since you wrote. On 28 November Alistair Darling made a statement to the House in which he announced that the consultation period would be extended as a result of the successful High Court challenge brought by Medway Council and others. In the New Year we will publish a further consultation document including options for new runways at Gatwick.

    In respect of Luton, I can assure you that the Government has not made any decisions about expansion of the airport. We do believe that full use should be made of existing airport infrastructure in the South East. But as you recognise, our own analysis makes clear (Table 14.3 of the consultation document) that the number of passengers using Luton up to 2030 is dependent on how much capacity is provided at the other South East airports. I will ask my officials to consider the points you have made alongside any other representations they have received as they prepare advice on the form and content of the further consultation material.

    We are aware of the Munich study to which you refer as well as of other research in this difficult area, including the recent West London Schools Study. The findings of that study were inconclusive and the Government is supporting further research in this area that is being co-ordinated by the EU.