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'What has the government got to hide?' MP launches petition calling for public consultation on RAF Northolt's future

Gareth Thomas MP asks what the government is hiding about the future of the airbase

A Harrow 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.”

Gareth Thomas MP asks what the Government is hiding about RAF Northolt's future

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 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.

You can sign the petition calling for a public consultation on the expansion of RAF Northolt here .

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