Adam Afriyie
MP for Windsor
Windsor MP welcomes CAA’s call for a ‘rethink’

Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has called for a ‘complete rethink’ of the airspace patterns before either Heathrow or Gatwick is given permission for a new runway.

He has warned that unless air flight patterns are modernised the expanded airport may be unable to use any of this additional capacity due to lack of airspace.

Mr Haines compared the situation of expanding an airport without redesigning airspace to ‘building a brand new car park and forgetting to build the access road to it’.

 

The MP for the Windsor constituency, Adam Afriyie welcomed the announcement:

“Most sensible people realise that a third runway at Heathrow is nonsensical because it is already the most expensive airport in Europe, in breach of pollution regulations, requires billions of taxpayer subsidy and could only operate at half capacity. We now discover that it is not guaranteed that Heathrow could use any additional airspace capacity a third runway might create.

Adam’s Parliamentary Questions reveal Heathrow plans

I have been fighting non-stop against the calamitous proposals for a third runway, and the steady rise in aircraft noise from our neighbour Heathrow Airport Ltd, since I became an MP in 2005.

Over the past 11 years we’ve won some big battles. Ruling out expansion in 2010. Forcing restrictions on night flights. Bringing an end to invasive flight path trials. And so on.

The Government is expected to reach a final decision on airport expansion later this year and, while aircraft noise remains a real issue for all of us, this is the most important fight of all.

The colossal weight of evidence against Heathrow has been presented again and again.

Heathrow will not bring value for money, will not meet legally-binding environmental targets and will not cater to our long-term aviation capacity needs, and is thus not in our national interest.

Opposing Heathrow is not NIMBYism, it is a decision that will have a national impact.

In response to a recent Parliamentary Question I asked (44201) the Government confirmed that they will consider overall plans to improve air quality and its legal commitments before making a decision.

Given that Heathrow is already in breach of its legal commitments with two runways, the idea that it can reduce NO2 emissions in the local area whilst expanding its air capacity by 50% is clearly a nonsense.

If releasing the additional capacity from an additional runway is made dependent on meeting binding, real world air quality milestones, then we may soon find that an expansion at Heathrow won’t release any new capacity at all.

This alone means that expanding Heathrow would be questionable if it was the only choice. Combined with the fact that there are many clearly more cost-effective alternatives that are less damaging to local communities, it ought to be bottom of our list.

You have my commitment that I will continue to fight tooth and nail for the best deal for my constituents regardless of what decision is taken.

I am delighted that, in response to a further Parliamentary Question (44199), the Government has confirmed that they are considering a strong package of measures to mitigate the impact of runway expansion on communities.

This builds on a recommendation by the Environmental Audit Committee last year that, regardless of whether a third runaway is granted to them, a Community Engagement Board must be created to restore trust between Heathrow and the local communities that it blights.

Whilst it will come to a relief to residents that the Government is considering how to help  local communities deal with the costs of runway expansion – and the effects of noise pollution – this yet again demonstrates how cost ineffective expanding Heathrow is compared to Gatwick.

Heathrow’s noise pollution already affects 7 times more people than any other UK airport. Expanding Heathrow will affect 837,000 more people, expanding Gatwick will affect 37,000. Heathrow is permanently stymied by its archaic location from a time before mass air travel.

With our withdrawal from the EU it is more important now than ever before to demonstrate that Britain is open for business and increasing our long term air capacity must be integral to that aim. But it is more important to make the right decision that to make a hasty one.

I would urge the Government to make the right choice and back expansion at Gatwick.

March is Brain Cancer Awareness Month

Of all of the constituents I have met in the past decade few have made such an impression as Andrew Scarborough. Andrew was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour at the age of 27. While his tumour was impossible to fully remove Andrew is managing his condition and will hopefully be taking part in a promising ketogenic clinical trial being run at Charing Cross Hospital later this year.

Andrew’s story is inspirational but his illness is not unique. Brain tumours are far more common than one might imagine. More people under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer – 5,000 a year in total. In spite of this brain cancer research receives far less funding than some of the more well-known cancers. Just one percent of the total amount spent on cancer research in the UK is allocated to this devastating disease.

Thankfully the knowledge of brain tumours has got much better over the last decade despite the inadequate funding and this in large part due to the hard work of charities like Brain Tumour Research and Brain Tumour Support. They are to be commended.

Andrew is living proof that a brain tumour diagnosis need not spell the end of life’s opportunities. He has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the issues that affect those living with brain cancer and is currently working towards a degree in Human and Medical Sciences in order to study cancer and bring this awful disease to the forefront of research. I wish him every luck with his degree and future career.

Andrew’s experience should be the norm rather than the exception. Together, we can raise awareness and get more funding for brain tumour research. This March let’s do what we can to take part in Brain Tumour Awareness Month. It will be an opportunity to make people more aware of the problems faced by people living with brain cancer and what science can do to support people like Andrew. For information on how you can get involved take a look at Brain Tumour Research’s ‘A to Z’ of events and opportunities.

If you want to learn more about Andrew’s condition, then I’d encourage you to go on his website: http://mybraincancerstory.blogspot.co.uk/ and follow him on Twitter at @ascarbs.

Windsor MP welcomes Government report on distributed ledgers

The Windsor MP welcomes the new report by the Government Office for Science on distributed ledgers, also known as blockchains.

Distributed ledgers are a method of recording information on a decentralised database. Proponents of distributed ledger claim that they are more secure than traditional ways of storing data and that they also cost less due to the fact that they strip away bureaucracy and shred red tape.

Distributed ledgers offer many varied new uses in the public sector, such as collecting taxes more effectively, giving the public access to their health records and verifying property and business records more securely.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Government with the objective of exploring their potential use in both the public and private sectors.

Adam Afriyie, Windsor’s MP, commented:

“Blockchains are one of the most exciting technology developments in recent years. As a former IT entrepreneur I look forward to the Government’s response to this report and soon hope to see pilots and trials of blockchains in the public sector.

“The potential savings to taxpayers with more efficient public services are enormous.

“Blockchains are secure but they are not cybercrime free so we must be proceed with caution. The creation of a potentially massive database containing everyone’s information could be like painting a giant target on the public sector for cyber criminals to aim at.

“In parliament we also need to consider the issues around Blockchains and I hope to secure a debate in the forthcoming months so MPs can engage with this exciting new topic.

“Let’s make 2016 the year that blockchains stopped being the sole domain of tech geeks and entered the public space and the political arena.”

 

ENDS

Note to editors

  1. Adam Afriyie has a strong background and interest in science, technology and innovation due to his entrepreneurial background in the IT sector and a variety of posts he has held and/or currently holds, including Shadow Minister for Science, Chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
  2. This press release is based on a report released by the Government Office for Science that can be found here.