At one of my public meetings in Henfield last year, a constituent said that he thought that a third runway was needed at Heathrow.  He was a pilot and, understandably, put the case for airport expansion.

Many of us have experienced delays in landing at Heathrow and I strongly agree that the airport needs to be better.

But there are huge environmental concerns about constructing a third runway, resulting in 222,000 more flights to Heathrow - the equivalent of adding an airport the size of Gatwick.

The damage to both the environment and millions of people's quality of life through noise pollution would be immense.

These concerns are widespread.  I have received a large number of e-mails objecting to the third runway, and this week the Government's plans were backed by just 19 votes in the House of Commons.

A second runway at Gatwick would be equally damaging.  Nearly doubling the airport's capacity to 80 million passengers a year would mean building another town the size of Crawley.  There is more than enough development pressure on West Sussex already.

But if increasing numbers of people want to travel, what's the solution?  I think it partly lies in high speed rail.

In France, before the advent of their TGV lines, rail accounted for only a fifth of passenger journeys on the Paris to Marseille route.  Now it takes nearly 70 per cent.

That's why we've published proposals for a new high speed rail line to link Heathrow with London and the Channel tunnel and with a new line to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

This real alternative to domestic and some European short-haul air travel would be equivalent to more than half of the flights which the Government says it will permit on a third runway.

It would be better for the environment, and it would be hugely beneficial to the regeneration of the North of England, too.

Michelle TaylorGatwick, Heathrow