MP in call for con­sul­ta­tion over fu­ture of RAF base

Uxbridge Gazette - - NEWS - KATHER­INE CLE­MEN­TINE by kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @KC_Journo

AN MP has launched a pe­ti­tion call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to carry out a full pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the fu­ture of RAF Northolt amid fears of the air­base expanding.

Gareth Thomas, MP for Har­row West, ques­tions why the gov­ern­ment is not giv­ing nearby res­i­dents a say on the fu­ture of the Royal Air Force base.

The cap on how many flights can fly from RAF Northolt has in­creased to 12,000, lead­ing to a rise in the num­ber of com­mer­cial flights to and from the air­base in South Ruis­lip.

As the gov­ern­ment has pledged to spend £45 mil­lion on works at RAF Northolt, in­clud­ing re-sur­fac­ing the runway, Mr Thomas be­lieves the fig­ure raises ques­tions on the fu­ture of the air­port as it is such a com­par­a­tively large sum.

The MP points out that Lu­ton air­port’s resur­fac­ing cost­ing £14m and RAF Wadding­ton’s cost­ing £35m, de­spite the fact its runway is al­most twice as long.

The Labour MP said: “At a time when NHS ser­vices, the po­lice force and schools across Har­row are fac­ing dam­ag­ing cuts, it is wrong that the gov­ern­ment are spend­ing such a sig­nif­i­cant amount on RAF Northolt with no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion or trans­parency.

“It’s not right for the gov­ern­ment to hide be­hind RAF Northolt’s mil­i­tary des­ig­na­tion to in­crease air­port ca­pac­ity in London by stealth.

“That’s why I’ve tabled a se­ries of ques­tions in Par­lia­ment to try to find out more and am de­ter­mined to make sure that res­i­dents’ views are heard.”

The Royal Air Force de­nies there are any plans to ex­pand or in­crease the cap on flights.

An RAF spokesper­son said: “Civil­ian flights at RAF Northolt will con­tinue to utilise spare ca­pac­ity to en­sure we get the best re­turn for the tax­payer.

“There are no plans to re­visit the de­ci­sion taken by min­is­ters in 2013 to set the cap in civil move­ments at 12,000.

“The clo­sure of the air­field for ren­o­va­tion in 2018 is for mil­i­tary re­quire­ments and has no as­so­ci­a­tion with fur­ther com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion.

“Fol­low­ing re­open­ing, the cap in move­ments will re­main the same and sched­uled air­lines are not per­mit­ted at RAF Northolt.”

RAF Northolt has spare ca­pac­ity, so it al­lows com­mer­cial air­craft to use its fa­cil­i­ties if per­mis­sion has been ob­tained in ad­vance and ca­pac­ity is avail­able, but the Min­istry of De­fence in­sists that mil­i­tary use has pri­or­ity at all times.

Its runway will be closed from spring 2018 for main­te­nance work to ex­tend its life for mil­i­tary re­quire­ments.

RAF Northolt and (left) Gareth Thomas

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