We are debating aviation strategy today, but a lot of the comments I have heard—particularly about the sticking-plaster solutions for Heathrow and all sorts of other, complicated, detailed, short-term fixes—do not deal with the strategy we need for the nation.
We used to be a great, island, global trading nation in the 1700 and 1800s, and we had a fantastic period even in the early 1900s. If we are talking about strategy, we should be talking about a long-term vision for where we want our country to be, and having a new offshore airport is a very good idea for the long-term economic growth of our country.
A short runway at Heathrow would not do it, while an extra runway at Gatwick would not deal with the hub issue. All those small fixes for the short term would just lead us straight back to where we were: putting off the long-term decision again, as my right hon. Friend Sir Alan Haselhurst described.
I very much welcome the Davies commission. I differ somewhat with the timetable for the reporting and the decisions, but it is right that someone is going to take a calm, long-term view of the situation.
There have been a lot of scare stories saying that, if a new hub airport were to be built over a period of 20 or 30 years, Heathrow would somehow cease to exist. However, we already have regional airports, and Heathrow could continue in that capacity and gradually evolve over time.
I must declare an interest, in that I live under the flight path in my Windsor constituency. The biggest challenge is to ensure that, with 480,000 air traffic movements a year, the number of flights does not increase.
A second concern relates to night flights. I was involved with the recent Civil Aviation Bill. Thankfully, Heathrow has only 16 night flights at the moment, but with an extra runway, that number would increase massively.
I will certainly continue to go on marches and to work with hon. Members across the House to ensure that a third runway does not become a reality.
We need to step back and look at the interests of the nation over the next 50 to 100 years, then make this decision in a cool, calm and collected fashion without focusing on short-term, sticking-plaster solutions. I hope that, when the Davies commission reports, it will have taken a long-term, mature look at the matter.
I believe that an offshore airport would solve all the problems, despite the short-term challenges involved in getting it built.