PUBLISHED: 10:16 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010
SIR, — I must respond to the letter headlined Night flights (Herts Advertiser, January 22), from John Davis. The London Luton Airport Consultative Committee, of which he is also a member, is not an executive or even a scrutiny committee but an advisory
SIR, - I must respond to the letter headlined "Night flights" (Herts Advertiser, January 22), from John Davis. The London Luton Airport Consultative Committee, of which he is also a member, is not an executive or even a scrutiny committee but an advisory body with one of the terms of reference being "to allow the concerns of interested parties to be raised and taken into account by the aerodrome operators with a genuine desire on all sides to resolve any issues that may emerge".
The aerodrome operators, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, have told the committee that a review of their Night Noise Policy due to take place from April 1, 2009, would be delayed for 12 months pending publication of their long-waited Master Plan for the airport.
However, since 1984 annual night movements have increased from 4,381 to 10,290 in 2007. In the third quarter of 2008 there was an average of 36 movements in the night period between 11pm and 6am. In the same quarter there were 111 complaints from the public about night noise - 35 per cent of all complaints (an increase of 66 per cent on the same quarter in the previous year). This is why many of us feel that we must take the opportunity provided by the review (and its delay) to seek an amendment to the Night Noise policy restricting nighttime movements.
The resolution that went before the full St Albans District Council last Wednesday, January 21, was as far as I could see passed unanimously. There was also mention of writing to the Department of Transport but that would be a pointless exercise. The Secretary of State sets night movement limits at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted because they are designated airports. Luton Airport is not designated so we must rely on conditions attached to planning permissions or seek to influence the airport operators as they develop their Night Noise policy. I understand that other councils near the airport are considering resolutions and I will be asking Herts County Council at its meeting on February 24 to similarly call on the operators to include in its Night Noise policy a restriction in the number of night flights.
Luton Airport makes a valuable contribution to the local economy through substantial rental payments to Luton Borough Council, employment of a large workforce and the use of local services to support its activities. It is now providing facilities for over 10 million passengers each year as well as air cargo and private aircraft. However, it is necessary to balance these commercial needs with those of the surrounding communities. I do hope that there will be a "sincere desire on all sides" to find a solution. If larger airports like Heathrow can manage with 16 to 18 planes a night and Stansted an average of 30 movements, it should not be impossible to agree an amicable arrangement for Luton.
Herts County Councillor and Vice Chairman, London Luton Airport Consultative Committee.