Airport: closing speech in full

John Denham MP's concluding remarks in full, from yesterday's (Oct 14) meeting to discuss proposed airport expansion.

The following has been transcribed as far as possible verbatim.

"Don't leave this meeting thinking either that the people up here [the speakers on stage] are going to do all the work, or that that nice person sat next to you is going to be the person who does all the work.

The people who are behind this meeting, such as the Airport Pressure Group, the Community Action Forum - small groups of people - have been beavering away on your behalf for years on these issues. If you've not been part of that, they need your support.

Please, when you leave here tonight, make yourself and your neighbour a promise that you won't leave it to the person next to you to do something. Because it's only if you get a weight of support that anything will happen."

[He talks about summarising and jotting down the issues:]

"We are not prepared to be ignored any longer. And that means the airport must get in place straight away, before they start publishing final masterplans or whatever, all of those things that have been talked about tonight:
  • Pollution monitoring
  • Noise monitoring
  • Tracking of aircraft - which they keep saying they've got in place but when you ring up there's no response
  • Response to the action line

These things are essential. It's the baseline to know what's going on, and you must put those in place.

The second point, thinking about wording about 'expansion', it just seems to me, and I respect the minority that are here tonight, and I welcome them coming along and speaking up, but the overwhelming mood of the people at this meeting, and I think in this area, is that we have actually had enough as things are at the moment.


Whatever happens, we're not prepared to accept that it should get worse.

Over the timescale of the masterplan, which is a 25 year masterplan with a 10 year first stage, we should be able to expect our quality of life to get better. And I think we should say that any plan for the airport that doesn't offer us the prospect for improvement in quality of life, will not be what we want.


The third thing is that the masterplan must, in its final form, address all of those issues that Nic [Nic Ferriday, from AirportWatch] and various people have spelt out, like the types of aircraft that are allowed to use the airport and the noise levels, the safety issues, the pollution issues - they must be addressed specifically, they must say what is going to be done and how that will affect us. And that will be judged by our criteria.

We're not prepared to see things get worse, and if that constrains what can happen at the airport, then that constrains what can happen at the airport. Those things that have been left out of the masterplan must be accepted.

My next point is this, and this might be more controversial, or not, I don't know, but I very much take the view that Caroline Lucas [Green Party, MEP for the South East Region] does; I do not believe, personally, and this may be the view of the meeting too, that the scale of expansion that is talked about in this plan is compatible with the things that we need to do to protect the global environment.


[inaudible bit]…. say to the airport, really, when it comes to your long-term plans, we don't believe it! We are sure that before you get anywhere near that, the pressure of action, whether it's European or global, or whatever, will come in, and stop you doing it. So you'd be better to make sensible plans that are realistic.

I think we also need — my final point about what we might say to the airport about the plan — we need to have a serious discussion, which I think Adrian [Adrian Vinson, Leader of Southampton City Council] has touched on, which is, of course numbers of flights, and noise matters to us. But the type of business that the airport does matters to us.

I think there is a case for business flights. And it's a far better one than the cheap holiday flights. So there should be a proper discussion about what that airport is actually going to be there for. It's not just a matter of saying, we'll agree a certain number of flights, and that's an end to the story. And that does mean a proper discussion about the runway, and the alignment.

They wouldn't be proposing this, if they weren't expecting to make a great deal of money out of it. I feel certain that they think they're going to get the Chickenhall Link [Eastleigh town centre bypass, estimated to cost Ł30 - Ł40 million] because they think they're going to end up paying for it. Well if they can afford to pay for the Chickenhall Link, then we can ask them if they can afford to do sensible things to the runway to mitigate the problems here.


The final three points I hope you'll take away from the meeting:

  • Each of you needs to write to the airport. Write to me to, and I'll pass things on as well, but don't just write to me, write to the airport. And copy your letters to the council — and to Eastleigh.  It is worth doing. We need them to feel the weight of the public opinion, because at the moment, they don't feel there's sufficient public opinion. So that's you, your friends, your neighbours, the people who couldn't come here tonight…

  • Secondly, very clear, and you got the message, Adrian, people expect the City Council to be in there, fighting on their behalf, 100%.


  • it's for me to discuss with the other MPs for the area, because it will be perfectly clear from this meeting, the current framework of government policy doesn't give the sort of support to you as I would like it to. As Rob [Rob Creighton, Southampton City Council officer] opened up very fairly, this process is triggered by the projections of air traffic that are in the government's white paper. So it is down to me, and it is down to other elected members of parliament, also to take the message from this type of meeting to government, albeit a government that is of the same party as I, that's not the issue; take it to government and say "this cannot happen. The damage to local communities it too great." And what I need to promise you, as your local MP, is that is what I will be doing in parliament over the months to come.

If we can work at all of those levels - from what people like me can do in parliament, what people like Adrian can do as leaders of councils, what you can do as members of communities, and the leaders of your local communities, then we have the best chance of succeeding.

Now is that a fair summary of where we want to go tonight?


Now as a very last point, I really do want to thank those people, the Airport Pressure Group, the residents' groups, and so on, who are responsible for this meeting happening, and who have carried things for you over the past few years. Do get behind them. Give them your support, and can we just thank them for everything they've done.


Thank you very much. That's the end of the meeting."

Reports from other speakers coming soon to

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