Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, yesterday challenged the Transport Minister, John Spellar, to say whether the Government has plans to finance a new runway at Luton Airport. Mr. Lilley expressed the anger felt by many people in Hitchin and Harpenden that it is assumed that a new long runway will be built at Luton ? without treating it as an option as is the case with all other airport proposals.
Peter Lilley said after Transport Questions in the House of Commons:
“I asked the Minister whether he was aware that the people of Hitchin and Harpenden will be severely affected by plans to expand Luton to the size of Gatwick airport. Incredibly, he falsely asserted that the local community has given ?very considerable support? to the proposals.
“He was also wrong in asserting that the proposals were being treated in the same way as all the other options for other airports in the Government?s consultation report. It is amazing that government ministers say one thing in their consultation document then flatly contradict it when challenged in public.
“It is now vital that as many local residents as possible write to the Department of Transport to register their objections to the excessive expansion plans for Luton Airport.
“I have also written to the Transport Minister, John Spellar, demanding a written assurance that the idea of a new long runway at Luton be downgraded from an assumption to which the government is committed to an option like all other proposals and that the concerns of my constituents will be given as much consideration as those of people living near all other airports.?
Notes to Editors
Excerpt from Hansard, Tuesday 19th November 2002:
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): Has the Minister asked the Treasury whether it plans to finance the new runway that he assumes will be built at Luton airport? Is he aware that my constituents will be severely affected by plans to expand Luton airport to the size of Gatwick airport? They are extremely angry that his report on the matter is unique in assuming that there will be a new runway at Luton, whereas all other new runway projects are treated as optional. Will he promise to give my constituents? concerns treatment equal to that given to the concerns of all other people living near airports?
Mr. Spellar: Two issues are involved in that question. One has to do with the options in connection with airports, including Luton airport. The other has to do with the financing of the consequences of any decision. The local community has given the proposed expansion of Luton airport very considerable support. [Interruption.] Perhaps the people of Luton are looking forward to the jobs that will be created, in contrast to the not-in-my-back-yard position adopted by some Opposition Members. Luton residents have shown considerable support for the project.
However, the proposal regarding Luton airport is being put up for consultation in the same way that all the other options are. We wait to hear the views of the constituents of the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) and other hon. Members on that option, and the views of the wider community, industry and trade unions. We look forward to receiving the right hon. Gentleman?s representations on the matter.
As the right hon. Gentleman also knows?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Minister?s answer is too long.