Is there a lack of communication between the Conservative Transport Secretary and the Conservative candidate in the Teesside mayoral election? I think so, because whilst the Conservative candidate said a few weeks ago that he planned to nationalise the airport, the Transport Secretary told me today, after I asked a question of him in the House of Commons, that the Conservative government has no plans to nationalise regional airports.
I do not believe it is fair on the people of Middleton St George and the wider Tees Valley to lead them down the garden path on the future of Durham Tees Valley Airport. The housing development on the site allocated will raise millions of pounds for re-investment in the airport. The community gain for Middleton St George can be significant and I will work with local people and Darlington Borough Council to ensure it is.
I have always opposed housing developments in Middleton St George. I have seen how the village has seemed to grow like Topsy. I also understand how overwhelmed local residents can feel with the pace of development. That is why I have a proven track record in supporting local residents in their opposition to housing developments in the village. I have attended meetings in the village, taken a delegation down to meet with the government minister responsible for planning in Westminster, and presented petitions in the chamber of the House of Commons.
However, I made it known to campaigners that the one housing development I would have difficulty opposing is the plan for 350 houses on land owned by Peel, at Durham Tees Valley Airport. The sale of the land would raise millions of pounds to be re-invested in the airport. It will also, because of planning gain, lead to millions of pounds to be invested in the local community. I have received a commitment from the local council for this to happen and I want the people of Middleton St George to have a say on how it is to be spent.
If the planning application had failed I could not see a future for the airport. The potential for growth is there, but it will take time and you cannot expect Peel to run the facility at a loss forever. The issues facing DTVA are faced by other regional airports up and down the country, which is why the expansion of Heathrow is necessary to provide regional access to international travel.
I know my view may be controversial in itself, but it is one that it is honestly held. The alternative of nationalisation is a gimmick without resource and for which there is no plan.