§ Mr. McQuarrie
asked the Minister for Trade what decision he has reached on the proposed airway between Edinburgh-Glasgow and Aberdeen: and if he will make a statement.
[pursuant to the reply, 14 March 1983, c. 70]: Because of the increasing traffic on the routes between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Aberdeen, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the joint Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation Authority body responsible for the safety and expedition of air traffic, decided that, in the interests of air safety, the existing advisory routes should be upgraded to airway status. In December 1979 these 310W proposals were put to the National Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee (NATMAC), which comprises representatives of over 20 organisations concerned with aviation.
As a result of representations made by the British Gliding Association (BGA), NATMAC, following further discussions under the aegis of NATS, agreed to change the alignment of the airway to avoid the Portmoak gliding site. This compromise solution will entail complications for the air traffic control authorities; the airlines will have to fly a less direct route, thereby increasing fuel costs; and there will be some restrictions of air gliding activities. Nevertheless, it was generally accepted that in the interests of safety, this was the best solution available.
I have received all the papers, including many representations from the gliding fraternity, consulted my Ministerial colleagues concerned, and I have met the interested parties on several occasions. Having looked at all the evidence, I have concluded that the NATS compromise must stand. However, I have agreed that the effects of the introduction of the new airway will be watched closely to discover whether, after a year's experience of the airway in operation, there are any improvements to be made, consistent with the over-riding safety and operational considerations.
I believe that the compromise described above, changing the route to the benefit of the gliders, plus the agreement to watch closely over the next 12 months how events work out in practice, constitute a fair balance between the interests of the gliders on the one hand and, on the other, the concerns of the airlines, their passengers, the sporting interests of parachutists, and national defence.