Previous Section Index Home Page

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Humble Petition of Mr G. Dadd of North Yorkshire County Council and Black Bull Inn, Thormanby, York, North Yorkshire and others of like disposition,


That they fear the proposed Police Funding Formula review will result in cuts of £10m, £16m, and £19m in years 1, 2, and 3 respectively will mean cuts of 300 Officers or a massive change to local Council Tax payers. We wish to see our entitlement to fair and equitable funding for North Yorkshire.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Government to withdraw the proposed Police Funding Formula review.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. ]


Post Office Closures (Shipley)

10.17 pm

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): On behalf of my constituents, I present a petition about their concern about the proposed closure of post offices in their local area. I support the petition wholeheartedly, and I pay tribute to my constituent Andrew Rowley, who virtually single-handedly collected in Shipley constituency the almost 3,000 signatures on the petition.

The petition states:

19 Nov 2007 : Column 1071


Rail Services (Northampton)

10.18 pm

Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): I present this petition on behalf of my constituents and those of the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Binley). It is about the train timetable changes in Northampton, which result in our losing our most important train of the day—the 7.12 am fast train bringing commuters to London.

The petition states:


Ambulance Control Centre (Shrewsbury)

10.19 pm

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con): I present to the House a petition with 16,000 signatures of my constituents who are concerned about the proposed closure of the ambulance control centre in Shrewsbury. One of my constituents, Mr. Steve Jetley, has worked tirelessly and feels so strongly on this issue that he has resigned his job to focus on the campaign. Many people have been trying to get as many signatures as possible, feeling passionately that Shrewsbury and Shropshire should retain our ambulance control centre.

The petition states:


19 Nov 2007 : Column 1072

Southampton and Bournemouth Airports

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. Watson.]

10.21 pm

Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): I welcome this opportunity to raise in the House my constituents’ concern about proposals for a new flight path into Southampton and Bournemouth airports. NATS—National Air Traffic Services—has proposed additional controlled airspace from Newbury to Romsey, where aircraft may fly as low as 5,500 ft. Flights would be permitted between 5.30 in the evening and 9.30 in the morning. At this stage, the proposal would only affect inbound flights from next April, but if approved it could be extended to outgoing and therefore noisier flights. Indeed, the document says:

There seems to be no scope for limiting the number of movements using controlled airspace once it has been designated. The proposals have been opposed by Hampshire county council, Basingstoke and Deane district council, 18 parish councils, the council of partners of the North Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, New Forest national park authority and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. I am grateful to Professor Johnnie Johnson and Alan Cox of Ashmansworth parish council and to councillors Horace Mitchell and Clive Sanders for their work in challenging these proposals.

Despite those powerful objections—more than 500 were made—NATS has asked the Civil Aviation Authority to accept the proposals without amendment later this month. In a letter dated 2 October, the Minister, whom I welcome to the Dispatch Box, told me:

I will show that those regulatory requirements have not been kept to. This evening’s debate is apt because at the end of this month the CAA is due to take a decision, in which the Minister has a role, and today the Prime Minister sought to underline his Government’s environmental credentials.

There are two questions. First, was the consultation process fit for purpose? Secondly, has the case for change been made? First, on process, what NATS did might have been appropriate some 20 years ago, when concern about environmental issues was lower, there was less commitment to consulting and getting feedback, and parish councils were less engaged in the planning process. We lived then in a less participatory society. But today, when there is a proposal such as this, that process is no longer fit for purpose. MPs should be offered a briefing in the House, NATS should write directly to parish and town councils, the document should be intelligible and conform to recent guidelines, and NATS should be prepared to put on roadshows for those who want them.

Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on securing this debate on a matter that affects large parts of his constituency and only a small part of mine, around the villages of Ham
19 Nov 2007 : Column 1073
and Shalbourne, although the people there are very concerned. Does he agree that the real outrage about what is happening is that whereas a local planning authority can, as has happened in such cases, stop noise pollution in areas such as Ham and Shalbourne in relation to glider launches or motocross, when something of this sort is proposed there is no local control at all over what happens?

Sir George Young: My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. There is less protection for what may be a noisier development than there is for the developments that he has just described. Indeed, he has put his finger on a point that was in the Government’s White Paper, “A better quality of life—strategy for sustainable development in the UK”. That proposed more openness, transparency and accountability in the decision-making process. I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend.

In May, a document landed on my desk, entitled “Terminal control south west airspace development”, which I nearly binned because I do not regard North-West Hampshire as being in the south-west. It came with a letter dated 4 May, containing a list of organisations that the CAA had identified for consultation, which included MPs. It said:

In other words, responsibility for consulting the parish councils was subcontracted by NATS to local MPs. Although local authorities also had that obligation, none of my parish councils were notified by them, and NATS made no attempt to see if the cascade they asked for had taken place. Indeed, one parish councillor e-mailed me on 8 August, two days before the consultation was formally ended, saying:

The document flies in the face of the January 2002 Department for Transport guidance to the CAA, CAP725, which states that the formal proposal must include

But there was no assessment in the document of other options. That point was well made by Basingstoke and Deane borough council, which said:

That was written on 10 August and it got no answer, so it wrote again, saying:

19 Nov 2007 : Column 1074

On process, Hampshire county council was equally dismissive:

There is no appeal against CAA decisions—unlike the other planning matters to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred—so it is particularly important that guidance be adhered to.

The document was not only incomplete; it was rather difficult to follow. Hampshire county council, a beacon authority, said this about it:

Basingstoke and Deane council agreed:

There is a map on page 5 of the document, in the section on noise impact, which implies that the land between Minstead and East Woodhay is flat, whereas some communities are 800 ft up, and are therefore closer to the source of noise from aircraft flying overhead.

The language used by NATS is at times impenetrable. Finally on the subject of process, the document is based on a rough estimate of the number of aircraft that might be directed down the new flight path, and on the current limited usage of Southampton and Bournemouth airports. However, both airports are scheduled for major expansion, and that fact is not reflected in the NATS assessment. Both airports currently have restricted night flying hours, which could easily change; in other words, flights might not stop in the new corridor at midnight.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): May I bring my right hon. Friend’s attention to a point that concerns my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne), and myself? The national park authority’s briefing note on the issue says:

NATS previously stated that

There seems to be a certain amount of dissembling going on.

Sir George Young: I am glad that I gave my hon. Friend a slot, so that his intervention could land safely. It was well made, and underlines the point that the new flight path, once granted, could cope with a greater volume of traffic than the one on which the consultation paper was based.

19 Nov 2007 : Column 1075

Those failures of process would be enough in themselves to invalidate the proposal for a new flight path. The Minister should make that clear tonight. However, when that is coupled with the second and substantive point—that the case for extending the airspace has not been made—the case for rejection becomes unanswerable. The consultation paper could not have been clearer:

It continued:

Later on we are told that the delay attributable to that is 15,000 minutes. The consultation paper says:

That is the case for change, but all attempts to get behind those figures were rebuffed. Ashmansworth parish council pounced on that weakness:

In a telephone conversation with NATS, one of my constituents was told that NATS was concerned with delays in flights going to Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as in those going to Southampton and Bournemouth. Fifteen thousand minutes sounds a lot; but it is the total delay for the whole year spread over every flight, which equates to about 10 seconds per flight. The proposals’ impact on such delays might be even less, as the new flight path would operate for only part of the day.

That raises other questions. Could such delays be reduced in other ways, by altering the timing or sequence of flights? NATS has made no mention of technological developments that might well impact on aircraft spacing, allowing a higher density without changing the flight paths. Then there are some weasel words in the document. The proposals will not reduce the delay; they will

Next Section Index Home Page