Legal action launched in St Albans to fight noise from Luton Airport
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:32 12 May 2016
Solicitors who led a successful High Court challenge against the expansion of Heathrow Airport six years ago have been engaged to help fight noise from Luton Airport.
Peter Hutchison, of Fishpool Street in St Albans, has hired Harrison Grant to help stymie the increase in planes flying across densely populated parts of the city.
He has also launched a website to explain his actions and drum up local support for the challenge.
On it, he points the finger of blame at Harpenden residents who lobbied for air route changes because of airplane noise.
Peter, who works in the recording industry, explained that in August last year, Luton Airport altered the flight path that historically passed across Harpenden, moving it to a more southerly position, towards St Albans.
He said: “This has had a detrimental affect on noise pollution to many residents in St Albans.”
Peter told the Herts Advertiser: “It is against my nature to campaign but the increase in noise has prompted it – this used to be a very peaceful spot and I have noticed that since changes were made last year, there has been an increase in planes, sometimes every few minutes.
“I had no idea that Luton was going to make changes to the flight path, or that it was being discussed, so I have made a complaint through the lawyer.”
London-based law firm Harrison Grant has written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), along with the Secretary of State and Luton Airport.
The firm is currently also acting for four London councils, and has warned the Prime Minister to expect court action should the proposed third Heathrow runway fail to be ruled out.
With regard to Luton Airport, Harrison Grant explained to the CAA that during the two decades Peter had lived at Fishpool Street there had been “very little aircraft noise in the area” until recently.
They said: “That has changed. There is now significant noise which is disturbing to him and others in St Albans.
“It would appear that the reason is an airspace change in August 2015.”
Harrison Grant said that while the CAA was responsible for “ensuring a full public consultation was carried out, it cannot have done so” but decided to press ahead with allowing Luton’s proposed alterations anyway.
The solicitors pointed out the authority was due to review the implications of the change one year after its initiation – this August.
They added: “If the review is to be meaningful, it must include the possibility that the airspace change will not be made permanent.”
The CAA has been called upon to confirm it will “collect information and views from St Albans residents who are now affected by aircraft noise and that if that demonstrates the environmental benefit anticipated in your decision has not occurred, then the change will not be made permanent.”
Peter, through his website, has urged residents to make their voices heard in relation to the airplane noise, warning “St Albans’ house price values may be affected”.
With Luton Airport also currently near-doubling capacity to 18 million passengers a year, Peter said this would “create a nightmare scenario for St Albans long-term with this new flight path implemented”.
He disagreed with Luton and the CAA that their decision to alter the flight path was supported by new technology to prevent St Albans from suffering from aircraft noise.
Peter went on: “This is a falsehood as St Albans residents are suffering constant increased aircraft noise since the flight path changed.”
A spokesman for the airport said: “After an extensive public consultation and approval from the UK regulator, the CAA, in 2015 we introduced the latest GPS technology to improve aircraft track-keeping to a new, narrower flight path.
“Over 90 per cent of 1,400 respondents said they were in favour of the changes, including local action group, Save Our Skies.
As a result of the changes, the number of people directly overflown has been reduced from about 13,000 to 3,000 people.”
For more information on Peter’s campaign, click here.