Christmas Adjournment — [David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:23 pm on 20th December 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 3:23 pm, 20th December 2018

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson, and also to follow Rachael Maskell. I will come on later to the issue of NHS land, but I will first concentrate on a serious situation that is still ongoing—the closure of Gatwick airport due to drones.

I led a debate in this Chamber on 18 July 2017 on drones and their conflict with aircraft. I mentioned that, on 2 July 2017, the runway at Gatwick was closed twice—once for nine minutes and once for five minutes—due to drone activity. Five flights were diverted and nine were held in a holding pattern. The runway has now been closed for more than 18 hours and will not reopen until 7 pm at the earliest. This is an incredibly serious situation involving the criminal activity of someone flying industrial-type drones in and over the airspace of an airfield.

When this situation is over, the Government and the aviation industry must look at this incredibly seriously. This kind of disruption to hundreds of thousands of people going about their ordinary business—seeing their loved ones at Christmas, going on honeymoons, going on holidays—is completely unacceptable. Technical measures, whether geofencing or guns that can fire nets to ensnare drones, must be put in place. If not, we will see this happen again. We warned about it when it happened on a small scale a year and a half ago. It has now happened on a large and costly scale.