MP for Windsor
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Adam Afriyie says Thames Estuary option must be included in the final report

Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor, today warned the Airport Commission against dropping the Thames Estuary option from its final report.

The Davies Commission published four studies of the plan to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary on Friday. These studies suggested that the plans for a new airport might face some technical environmental and financial difficulties.

Adam Afriyie said:

“I urge the Airport Commission to include an offshore option in the South East shortlist for its final report. Eliminating this option would be a short-sighted decision, based on technical difficulties that can be overcome if we truly want a long-term solution to our aviation needs.

“In the next 30 to 50 years, the UK may need as many as five extra runways to cope with increased airport demand. There is ample space for this expansion around the Thames Estuary, and a new offshore airport would provide us with the long-term capacity to become a great trading nation again – without imposing noise and pollution on a large number of people living under the flight path.

“So, the Airport Commission now has a prime opportunity to help make an important decision that is in the long-term interests of the country. Sir Howard Davies must not let this opportunity slip through his hands. It is the opportunity of the century for Britain.

“Let us remember, there is simply not space for this type of expansion at Heathrow. We’d need another two or three runways within a few decades or so. Heathrow expansion is a short-term sticking plaster solution that it is not in the local, regional or national interest.

“People, like the shareholders of Heathrow Airport Plc, have always pointed out technical difficulties that face building a new airport in the Thames Estuary. But, if the decision is right for the country we can rise to the challenges.

“The Mayor of London, Sir Norman Foster and others have shown that a large proportion of the necessary funding could be raised from private investors, and that there are many innovative solutions to the other challenges.”

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Notes to Editors

  1. Mr Afriyie’s website: http://www.adamafriyie.org/
  2. Mr. Afriyie’s article in The Telegraph arguing in favour of a Thames Estuary airport: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/9531940/Why-Im-backing-Boris-Island-by-Windsor-MP-Adam-Afriyie.html
  3. Copy of consultation documents on Thames Estuary option: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/inner-thames-estuary-airport-studies

 

Contribution to the parliamentary debate on the UK’s Aviation Strategy

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.