Sir Mike Penning takes the opportunity of a debate on aircraft slots to raise his disappointment at the decision to expand Luton airport to levels way above what it was designed for, and to highlight the impact it will have on areas in his constituency.
I am thrilled that this statutory instrument is being taken in the House—where I can talk about it—rather than up on the Committee corridor, because I would probably not have been selected to sit on that Committee.
On slots, my constituents are very concerned at the moment, not least about Luton airport, which has blighted my constituency with its overflying. That does not affect the town of Luton at all, even though the airport is owned by Luton Council. The flights massively affect the northern part of my constituency, particularly Markyate, Flamstead and the Gaddesdens.
Of course, we have a terrible situation at the moment with thousands of cars still trapped at Luton airport after the horrendous fire there. My constituents still cannot get to their vehicles, and they do not know when they will be able to. Flights are arriving and taking off, but there are still massive problems with parking, because the airport was never designed to be the size it is now.
I rise to speak on this because the Government have made a decision—I am pleased it was called in; and the decision was not made by Luton Council—that there will be a massive expansion of flights from Luton airport. I appreciate that this is not in the Minister’s portfolio, but I used to be the shadow Minister, and I know how it is for someone on the Front Bench: this may not be in his portfolio, but I am afraid he is going to cop it. It is a ridiculous decision to allow Luton airport to expand when there are so many complaints from residents not from Luton. We have seen the problem with the fire, but the airport is just not designed to be this size, and it is not geographically suitable.
I am not a hypocrite. Have I flown from Luton airport in the past? Yes, I have.
What has this got to do with slots?
I hate to say this to the shadow Minister, but this is about slots at Luton airport—in a Labour-controlled constituency—which I thought he might be interested in, because my constituents really are.
I just want to put on the record that increased slots will cause increased pollution and increased noise for my constituents. The decision to allow increased number of flights—the expansion will almost double Luton airport—was fundamentally opposed by me, and it will be a very sad day when it goes ahead.
Going back to my speech earlier and the increase in slots at Luton airport, can the Minister indicate when the increase in flights will start to occur, so that I can inform my constituents how much of their life is going to be blighted even more by the flights from Luton airport?
I am not sure I quite caught the force of the question, because I was being interrupted when my right hon. Friend spoke.
What are the timescales for the increase in slots from Luton airport, now that the Government have given permission for the expansion of Luton airport? That will have a massive impact on my constituents, and I would like to inform them factually about what is going on.
Existing slots will follow the procedures laid out in the legislation. As regards future slots, they will be allocated according to the consultation that we will be launching shortly. I should say that this is the last intervention I will take, Madam Deputy Speaker, since I had sat down before the two previous ones.