By Sir George of Reigate, what a flight of sheer delight : Bunhill

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE MANY amongst us anxious to be shot of Kenneth Baker and Sir George Gardiner will be cheering on the efforts being made to promote tiny picturesque Redhill as a feeder airport. Its promoters are claiming that it could take many of the smaller aircraft that at the moment clog up Gatwick a mere five miles away. Indeed last week the Government hinted that use of such feeder airfields could relieve the strain on Heathrow and Gatwick. This is where Messrs Baker and Gardiner come in, as local MPs (the third member affected is Peter Ainsworth, a relatively harmless ex-merchant banker - in so far as there can be such a person). For their previously loyal constituents are up in arms, rushing around uttering cries of "tarmac runways in an area of outstanding natural beauty . . . noise . . . pollution . . . shock, horror" - though sotto voce they admit house prices could go up.

Moreover the local ex-Tory Loyalists are claiming It's All A Plot: the idea was originally put forward by the Adam Smith Institute; that well-known manipulator Sir Tim Bell is acting for the airport's promoters; and the major shareholder is Michael Stone, who has just made several million bob on the flotation of his commodity-broking company, ED & F Man, and is said to have "links at the highest levels of the Conservative Party". What is more - nudge nudge, wink wink - he paid a high price for the additional land required for expansion, so he must have Known A Thing Or Two.

All good stuff, even if the evidence pointing to a plot (or indeed against expanding the airport) does vary between the thin and the non-existent, and the airport is already used by helicopters far noisier than would use it under the new proposals.

Nevertheless, if the Government does give the go-ahead, the locals will clearly take it out on Messrs Gardiner and Baker. Come to think of it, Mr Major might not be too sorry to be rid of them. Right on, Redhill!