RAF Northolt

MQT on 2017-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2017
Question By: 
Peter Whittle
Asked Of: 
Peter Whittle


I note that RAF Northolt is about to undergo a £45 million renovation - without local consultation - which could pave the way for it to become a fully-fledged regional commercial airport. Despite a cross party coalition of MPs, AMs and 3,000 people in West London demanding answers on the MoD's intentions at Northolt, there is still no sign that they are willing to hold a proper consultation. What representations has the Mayor made to the Secretary of State for Defence to encourage him to hold a meaningful consultation with local residents?


Answer for RAF Northolt

Answer for RAF Northolt

Answered By: 
Peter Whittle

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am absolutely clear that the role of Royal Air Force (RAF) Northolt should not change and should not be used for more commercial flights.  This is reiterated in my new draft London Plan, which states that any significant shift in the mix of operations using an airport should be refused.


The Government has announced that RAF Northolt will close for some months in 2018 to undertake improvements to the runway and extend its life.  However, I am not aware that this is linked to any proposals to increase the number of commercial flights using the airport, nor that any such plans are in development.  If the Assembly Member has any information to the contrary, I would be grateful if he could share this.


In light of his question and the public concern, I have written to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to seek clarification about the scope of proposed works and seek assurances that this will not permit increased commercial flying.  Of course, I will share the response as soon as I receive it.


My formal powers in relation to RAF Northolt are very limited, but I will do what I can to ensure the MoD does not introduce additional commercial flights at the airport.  Aviation noise remains a significant concern for hundreds of thousands of Londoners and I will continue to make the case for its impact to be fully addressed at all of London’s airports regardless of any expansion.


Peter Whittle AM:  I am grateful to hear that you have written to the MoD, Mr Mayor, and I am also pleased to hear that you do not think it should be a commercial airport.  The question, really, which I was asking originally was that there should be a public consultation.  I know that you have made representations, but it seems to me that the history - and I know that Assembly Member Sahota has talked about this before - is of people absolutely being in the dark and the public being completely in the dark as to what is happening, whatever their view.  Could you put pressure on to have a public consultation too?  Could you ask them to do that however they might do it, whether it be by public meeting or whatever?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  As you said, you are one of many Assembly Members to raise this issue.  There has been Assembly Members Shah, Sahota and Kurten and you, and there has been public concern.  Some of it is generated by Flybe lobbying, if you remember, to operate scheduled flights and there has been huge public concern, which you are articulating today.  For a refurb and an improvement, there would be no need for public consultation, but my letter is quite clear to the Secretary of State in relation to our expectations.  At the moment, because there is no intention to change the use or to increase the flights, I am not sure if public consultation is required, but, clearly, if there was any attempt to increase the flights or for it to be a commercial airport, there would need to be proper consultation.  As you have heard from my answer, I would be against any increase in activity at this airport.


At the moment, the airport accommodates 12,000 business aircraft movements per year.  You will be aware that if there is any attempt by the MoD to increase that, there should be full public consultation.  I am happy to make further representations once I receive a response to my letter, which hopefully will reassure all of us that there are no plans for the MoD to increase use.


Peter Whittle AM:  Thank you for that, Mr Mayor.  It is reassuring.