Having opened in 1915, RAF Northolt has long been an important part of South Ruislip’s community and identity, receiving strong support from local residents.
RAF Northolt has a proud history in protecting our nation and to this day remains a core military site, used by the military every day on vital operational tasks and played an important role as the forward base to ensure the safety of this city during the Olympic Games in London. RAF Northolt is more than just the runway and it is currently home to over 1,800 personnel, based across 33 diverse units with representatives of all three branches of the armed services and wider Government including The Queens Colour Squadron, 32(The Royal) Squadron, British Forces Post Office and London Air Ambulance.
Many residents have been contacted by a campaign group in the last year whose role has been to scaremonger about the future of RAF Northolt. I want to be clear, in 2018 the airfield will close for military requirements to extend the lifespan of the runway.
I know many residents have been misinformed these works are a preface to increasing the cap on the number of commercial flights. This is simply not true. Prior to the Westminster Hall debate in September 2017 on ‘the Future of RAF Northolt’, I made representations to the Defence Minister, Tobias Ellwood to ensure he was aware of the importance of RAF Northolt to my constituents and that they would not stand for an increase in the cap. I was delighted to hear the minister state: “I assure the hon. Gentleman and residents of the area that no current active planning is looking at any further changes to that 2013 decision about the cap or the operating terms and conditions. The unchanged, stringent terms and conditions that have been in place for civil movements for many years mean that in future we will not attract any aircraft larger than those that we have accepted for decades.”
Following the debate and the continued campaign, residents were still asking me whether there were any plans to turn RAF Northolt into a commercial airport.
And so, I have recently met with the Defence Secretary, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP and the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, to discuss the plans for RAF Northolt. I have asked that local residents are kept informed about the renovations at RAF Northolt and to ensure any disruption is minimal.
I am delighted to have secured a firm commitment from the Government that the strict limits on the type and number of commercial flights - 12,000 annual movements of civil registered aircraft - will stay in place and that flights by scheduled airlines will remain prohibited.
The Labour run Ealing Council submitted plans to demolish RAF Northolt and build 20,000 homes in response to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s “City for All Londoners” document.
Ealing Council put forward the proposal to close the station and build 20,000 homes, deeming RAF to serve “no real strategic importance”.
My constituents have my utmost assurance, I will fight any such proposals all the way. I was delighted to receive the support of Hillingdon Council in the campaign against any such plans. As the Leader of Hillingdon Council has previously suggested, such a proposal would accommodate between 45,000 and 60,000 residents requiring a significant number of extra school places and GPs – placing too much pressure on public services.