Mr. Garnier: I know that the hon. Member for Manchester airport is keen to support his Manchester airport group and that is fair enough; he is right to do so. However, we are suspicious of the attitude that the airports, especially Nottingham airport, take towards the complaining member of the public, let alone the complaining Member of Parliament. I may be a pain in the posterior but I am doing what I am paid and elected to do. I shall go on being a pain in the posterior until the management of Nottingham East Midlands airport realises that there are a public out there with whom it has to treat if it misbehaves, abuses people, throws filth all over our rural areas and does not understand that ambient noise in the city is different from the ambient noise in the country, and that if one flies an aeroplane every 90 seconds over east Leicestershire at 4,000, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 ft at night, people will be woken up.
I live in both rural Leicestershire and the centre of London. Flights go over my house in Stockwell every night and throughout the day, but I do not notice them because there is so much other ambient noise in my street and area. However, in rural areas in Leicestershire, including North-West Leicestershire, and in South Derbyshire, there is little ambient noise. It is therefore no good people saying, "It's high time you took your share of the noise." We are complaining about relative, not absolute noise.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is perhaps a little unfair to the newly appointed press officer. We have criticised airports for lack of an environmental perspective, but the appointment is an attempt at recycling. Earlier, he contrasted the Government's approach with earlier Conservative approaches. Would he be surprised to learn that a Conservative Secretary of State for the EnvironmentI believe that it was Tom King, who was then Member of Parliament for Bridgwaterdeclined to include
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conditions on planning permission for a runway extension to east midlands airport? That has been the root of all our problems in the subsequent 15 or 20 years.
Mr. Todd: I want to focus on a point that I raised earlier and that I believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman made during exchanges on Second Reading. It dealt with anxiety about the shape of the amendments. Given that I pointed out a flaw in the amendment that my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor) tabled, I do not believe that there is an amendment that proposes a framework of objective analysis and judgment of an airport's proposals for self-regulation and any penalty scheme that it imposes. What are his thoughts on that?
Mr. Garnier: I agree with the hon. Gentleman and I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening) made a similar point. I want the argument to proceed rationally, sensibly and relatively good-humouredly, but it is difficult when getting facts out of the airport is harder than drawing teeth. When it answers letters, the replies do not entirely fit the questions that one has put. There may be all sorts of good reasons for that.
I share the hon. Gentleman's concerns, however. I want the airport to thrive but in way that is not antisocial. I want it to thrive in a way that allows it to make a profit and to expand but which is also sympathetic to the concerns not only of the people who live within the 10-mile radius. By "local", the Government mean within 10 or 12 miles of an airport. People who live 20 to 50 miles away are not considered local and therefore have no leverage on the decisions that affect them. I agree with the hon. Gentleman and I wish that I could get the Government to persuade the airport company and the Civil Aviation Authority to be as reasonable as he is. If that were possible, we would have a happier set of residents in Leicestershire.
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I shall speak about the amendments to which my name is attached and in support of amendment No. 21 and I would like to deal with them in order of significance. Amendments Nos. 1 and 21 are the most significant.
I want to begin by continuing the recent line of discussion in our debate. Every time we have an aviation debate, Members are classified either as modernising aviators or luddites and I want to reach an understanding of our shared objectives for the Bill and the overall thrust of aviation policy. We all want a thriving aviation industry that provides efficient air transport and employment for our constituents and has minimal impact on the global and local environments. However, in recent years, members of all parties have gone further. We want a sustainable aviation industry and to use modern methods as best we can to achieve that. They include new technology, new methods of measurement and so on. We also want the airports to be good neighbours where they are located, cherishing the environment and the quality of life of residents in the vicinity.
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Successive Governments have stated those objectives in recent periods. There is no more coherent statement of them than that in the recent White Paper on the future of the aviation industry. My understanding of clause 2(2) is that the Government intend to provide themselves with a strengthened tool with which to achieve the objectives for control of noise and, elsewhere in the Bill, emissions. Those are the two most significant environmental impacts of airports.
The argument, as I heard it on Second Reading and read it in the Committee proceedings, is that the method for controlling the impact of airports in disbenefits to my constituents and others is currently too crude and provides no incentive for airport operators to reduce the impact. As I understand it, the intention is to retain the power to impose overall limits on movements but to broaden it to enable the Secretary of State to control noise by noise quotas and contours. It sounds rational and the Government's approach would be viewed as an acceptable modernisation. The problem is that any method that we propose must command the confidence of, most of all, the people whom we seek to protect. In all the discussions and consultations that have taken place in my constituency and throughout London, especially in relation to Heathrow, it is clear that there is no confidence in the Government's proposals in the Bill. We should listen to the people most at risk. Perhaps the lack of confidence is due to the way in which our constituents have been treated in the past.
I do not think that people have been treated as brutally in any major infrastructure development in this country over the past two centuries as they have by the aviation industry. It started with the clearance of Heathrow village and has gone on to involve the imposition of five terminals on my constituency. At each stage, at each inquiry that has taken place, and in virtually every debate on the issue in the House, we have heard the aviation industry, Ministers, civil servants and experts giving us their judgment, according to their expertise, on the limited impact of these developments on my constituents and on Londoners in general. On each occasion, these have turned out to be wild misjudgments, underestimations and, some believe, a tissue of lies. It is on that basis that people no longer have confidence in the proposals being put forward.
David Taylor: Does my hon. Friend agree that what the Government have said has underpinned their approach to aviation expansion? They say that they are moving away from a predict and provide approach, but in what significant way is the present strategy different from that approach, which has produced such appalling results in certain areas of the economy and the environment in the past?
On the evidence of the past 40 years, and on the evidence produced in the recent discussions on terminal 5, there is no sign of any shift away from predict and provide. In fact, the suspicion is that the Bill represents a change in legislation that will greatly facilitate the continuation and expansion of that policy.
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It is no wonder, therefore, that people in my constituency and elsewhere are sceptical about the proposals in it.
The Government have argued that the control of air movements could still be a tool of control under the new regime. However, we should listen to the victims, the people who are already suffering, rather than to the polluters. Why should people believe BAA, the same company that promised my constituents in writing, during the terminal 5 inquiry, that it would not promote or seek a third runway? Within months of terminal 5 receiving approval, the company was lobbying the Government, and is still doing so, for a third runway, which would decimate the communities in my constituency. It now admits that 700 houses would have to go, that there could be a new terminal, and that 4,000 homes could be affected. This could involve a forced migration of nearly 10,000 people. Such a migration has not been seen since the Scottish clearances.
Why should people believe Secretaries of State? Time after time, after an inquiry has made a decision, successive Secretaries of State from Lord Tebbit onwards have reverted to continuing the policy of predict and provide, and to imposing more and more terminals on my constituency.