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What recent progress has been made by the Airports Commission.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): The Airports Commission recently completed a consultation on
May I congratulate the Government on their policy on no third runway at Heathrow? Does the Secretary of State agree that the aviation industry would be best served by a solution that encourages competition; can be delivered sooner, cheaper and easier; takes into account the impact on local residents; and does not require billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money?
My hon. Friend has been very consistent in her opposition to any third or fourth runway at Heathrow, and I know she supports the expansion of other airports. I look forward to receiving the commission’s recommendations and report this summer and to my hon. Friend’s comments on it.
Have we not just wasted another five years? The coalition has delayed building new runway capacity for the south-east because the Liberal Democrats are in denial about aviation being a very important economic instrument. I think the Conservative party now get it. Why have we had to wait another five years?
I will not take any lessons from a party that wasted 13 years in not doing anything about extra capacity. It is a bit rich of the hon. Gentleman to accuse the Government of not taking action. The truth is that all the options that are being discussed by the commission are very different from the proposals considered by the previous Government.
Has the Secretary of State asked the Airports Commission to examine the cumulative impact of any runway extension at Heathrow and how it would affect the local area if it coincided with other projects, such as the construction of HS2, the Amersham waste transfer station and the development of Newland park? What assessment has been made of the impact on the local area?
The commission is doing a comprehensive piece of work looking at all the options relating to aviation capacity in the south-east and the associated infrastructure projects that any project it suggests will affect, so I am sure it will have considered the points made by my right hon. Friend.
This may be the last time I am able to address my right hon. Friend in this Chamber. It has been a great pleasure to work with him over many years. He has made a huge contribution, not only to the House of Commons and the Conservative party, but in standing up for his constituents in Uxbridge.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that these matters need to be addressed very carefully. Of course, at the moment the whole question of HS2 is being studied by a Committee. I am not going to trespass on the valuable and important work it is doing, but my right hon. Friend makes some valid points. The importance that Old Oak Common will have to the infrastructure of this country is vast indeed, and I hope to be able to say a bit more about that shortly.