Clause 1 — Aerodrome charges: noise and emissions

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 12th October 2006.

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Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 1:00 pm, 12th October 2006

I congratulate David Taylor on his hard work, not only on behalf of his constituents, which he has properly done, but on behalf of the cross-party alliance of Members of Parliament from Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire—Mr. Todd is in his place. From our different geographical perspectives, all of us have plenty to say that is not hugely favourable to the way in which the management of Nottingham East Midlands airport has treated its neighbours.

As I have said in the House on a number of occasions, I as a Conservative Member of Parliament am entirely satisfied that the Manchester Airport Group, which wholly owns the airport in my county, Leicestershire, is entitled to make a profit, to carry out its business and to do what it can to improve the facilities and other activities that go on at its airport, be it the reception and dispatch of aeroplanes or turning itself into a retail park. However, if Nottingham East Midlands airport is to have any local credibility, it should behave as a responsible neighbour.

That brings me back to the question to which I did not get an answer when I intervened on the Under-Secretary: what do we mean by neighbour? In the language of the Bill—I am sure all hon. Members agree that we must be entitled to seek precision in the language of a Bill—we are creating a regime that will allow private enterprises to impose penalties on commercial operators. In the making of the law, it behoves us to be precise in what we mean. In her remarks this afternoon the Minister used the expression "locality", the original Bill uses the expression "vicinity", and the Secretary of State's amendment in lieu uses the expression "area". I am hugely concerned that because the Government are in thrall to the aircraft industry and the airport industry, they will provide no more than a hollow Bill, as my hon. Friend Mr. Brazier said. The Bill is no more than a set of words that will achieve nothing to make sure that airports such as Nottingham East Midlands airport behave themselves.

My hon. Friend and I are going to Nottingham East Midlands airport tonight—I for the second time, at least, this year. I always get on extremely well with the managing director of the airport and with her senior management staff. They are unfailing in their courtesy and politeness, but I fail to understand why it is so difficult to extract from them information and facts.

When I last went there in August, I was told that it was not possible to extract air speeds from the machinery that monitors incoming aircraft. The aircraft are delivered by the national air traffic system from the Welwyn sector into the sector that is controlled by Nottingham East Midlands air traffic control system. We were told that the continuous descent method over my constituency and south-east Leicestershire would ensure quieter descents across my constituency. We were told that aircraft do not travel at more than 250 knots as they come into Nottingham East Midlands air traffic system.

I now have the radar details, which tell me that, by and large, aircraft are moving into the area at speeds in excess of 250 knots, and in order to cover the distance in a safe way, land and stop travelling by the end of the runway, they have to apply the air brakes, the full thrust and so on. The noise over my constituency is enormous, relative to the ambient noise in the area. The Government, the airport, its owners in Manchester, the Civil Aviation Authority and the airline operators care nothing about my constituents and their quiet enjoyment.

I have said many times to various Ministers, various officers of Nottingham East Midlands airport and others who were prepared to listen that nothing is done about it. The latest amendment adds still further imprecision to the wording of the Bill. I am becoming increasingly frustrated about the good will of the Government to do anything to look after the people who live in this country. The Government are concerned only to placate the airline and airport industries. I know that that is probably unfair, but it is the only inference I can draw from the evidence I have seen, from the conduct of the passage of the Bill and the people who appear to have influence on the Government.

I shall stop now, as I know that the hon. Member for South Derbyshire wishes to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I urge the Government not to be satisfied with the use of loose language and not to hope that private enterprises such as Nottingham East Midlands airport will do anything other than let the status quo continue.