Harpenden residents turn out in force for meeting over plans for huge Luton Airport expansion

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:40 29 May 2018

The Harpenden Society meeting about Luton Airport.

The Harpenden Society meeting about Luton Airport.

Archant

Plans to expand Luton Airport to accommodate more passengers came under fire at a meeting of the Harpenden Society.

The Harpenden Society meeting about Luton Airport.The Harpenden Society meeting about Luton Airport.

A public meeting was held in Rothamsted Research’s Fowden Hall, in West Common, Harpenden, on Thursday, May 17 to discuss the proposed expansion, which will more than double the airport’s passenger handling capacity and number of flights.

The plans were outlined to an audience of 130 people by Hazel Simmons, leader of Luton borough council, Andy Malcolm, a Luton councillor and chairman of London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), and Robin Porter, the chief operations officer for LLAL.

Ron Taylor, of the Harpenden Society, said: “Their assertion that such huge expansion could be achieved with minimum environmental impact, by way of additional aircraft noise or road traffic disruption, was disputed by many in the audience, based on their experience of today’s local airport-related headaches.”

Campaign groups in both Harpenden and St Albans have been urging the airport to decrease noise disturbance from flights taking off and landing, especially at night.

Left to right: Hazel Simmons, Andy Malcolm, Robin Porter and Harpenden Society acting chairman Alan Jackson.Left to right: Hazel Simmons, Andy Malcolm, Robin Porter and Harpenden Society acting chairman Alan Jackson.

They have also expressed concerns about congestion caused by traffic going to and from the airport, especially on the A1081 and Lower Luton Road through Harpenden.

At the meeting, operations officer Robin Porter admitted that airports are “smelly and noisy”, but said the noise issue was being addressed through a number of measures, notably by narrowing the flight paths and routing them over less populated areas, and requiring aircraft to climb more steeply after take-off to reduce their noise footprint.

He also explained that a new, three-minute rail link costing £225m would connect Thameslink’s Luton Airport Parkway Station to the airport terminal, encouraging more passengers to travel to and from the airport by rail and easing congestion on the roads.

Council leader Hazel Simmons said: “We found this to be a very positive meeting as we seek to understand fully how our neighbours view the success of the airport.

“We heard a variety of opinions, some of which were supportive and others which were not.

“We are absolutely committed to minimising and mitigating environmental impacts, and it was very valuable to be able to respond to questions.

“We will shortly be announcing details of a series of consultation events.”

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