Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 11:02 23 February 2017

A plane takes off from London Luton Airport

A plane takes off from London Luton Airport

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I feel that I must respond to your letter from a “South Luton Resident” regarding the noise pollution vs economic benefit debate surrounding Luton airport. Long term residents of south Luton must be in despair at seeing their quality of life destroyed by the relentless growth of the airport and the pollution it causes.

The letter refers to “Luton’s gain is Hertfordshire’s pain” – I always thought the expression was “Bedfordshire’s gain is Hertfordshire’s pain”.

Because of its position at the very south eastern tip of Bedfordshire, all routes to and from the airport fly over Hertfordshire. On the busiest departure route, to Central and Eastern Europe, they fly over northern St Albans, often at an altitude under 4,000 feet.

Why so low we ask? Because, we are told, of the complex airspace in the area – interactions with Heathrow, Stansted and London City. Why then do they turn south into this traffic – why not turn north and overfly southern Bedfordshire, and less congested airspace. We have been told that we should be more appreciative of the airport – the economic benefit to Hertfordshire is £88 million a year. (The economic impact of London Luton Airport – November 2015).

What they do not tell us is that the economic benefit to Bedfordshire, two lines above in the same report, is £600 million a year. It is easy to see the logic in the “Bedfordshire’s gain is Hertfordshire’s pain” expression.

I really do have sympathy with your South Luton reader, but there is one significant difference between their situation and our own.

The recent expansion at the airport was subject to a planning application, approved by Luton Borough Council, who also benefit from income from the airport, estimated to be £26million this year. You can question if Luton Council should have been able to approve such an application when they have such a financial interest, but that is old news. The night noise controls at Luton are also set by the council – tighter restrictions or even a total ban on night flights would be possible if there was the political desire to do so. One presumes your “South Luton” reader has a vote – in Hertfordshire we have no power at all.

NIGEL GREEN
Sandridge

Your Clarence Park story (‘Safety fears force the closure of park steps’, February 9) did not tell the whole story.

Anyone reading the comments of Debbi White, head of community services at St Albans district council, might think that the problem with the ramp and steps on Hatfield Road had arisen out of the blue and was unavoidable.

In fact, the council announced in March 2015 that the ramp and steps were on their way out. Despite commitments from council officers, an earmarked fund and pressure from park-users to get on with it, two years have elapsed and there is no prospect of any long-term replacement for at least another six months and - given the woeful track record to date - perhaps considerably longer.

The Clarence Park Consultative Forum is not ‘part of the council’ but rather is a group of members of the public who are representative of the various park users.

It has never ‘expressed a desire to completely replace the steps’. Rather, in light of the advice that the ramp and steps needed replacing, it has simply been pressing the council’s officers to come up with a sensible solution that is within the allocated budget.

Yet nearly two full years on, the council has failed to do what is a relatively straightforward job and so the entrance is closed ‘indefinitely’ . This is just not good enough and the council should absolutely not renege on its commitment (expressed on numerous occasions in formal meetings) to keep the entrance open through short-term repairs until the long-term solution is in place.

Surely it is not too much to ask that the entrances to a flagship public park are kept open?!

PAUL BRECKNELL
On behalf of Protect Clarence Park and Clarence Park Residents’ Association

Sandridge, Jersey Farm and North St Albans have had to endure an unprecedented amount of aircraft noise, predominantly from Luton Airport, since the new navigation system (RNAV) was introduced.

Despite repeated requests to monitor noise in Sandridge, nothing has yet been done.

I was horrified to read that London Luton Airport (LLA) consider this noise monitoring (or lack of) to be “purely for the community’s use” and that it would have no bearing upon the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) review of Luton’s introduction of RNAV.

I would in fact, like to refer Luton Airport in the direction of the CAA document Airspace Change Proposal Environmental Assessment specifically referring to RNAV1 Procedures for Runway 26 Brookmans Park Departure Routes.

Section 5.2 states: “The track diagrams submitted with the submission show that currently, beyond the railway, traffic is dispersed whereas the dispersion created during the two RNAV trials shows a much more concentrated pattern, notably over Sandridge. Recognising that the actual noise impact of this expected change in traffic pattern at this location is very unlikely to be significant, it is still recommended to ensure that the sponsor’s proposal to monitor the noise levels at this location is undertaken and considered as part of the CAA’s post implementation review”.

It also states: “Noise impact of this traffic (ie. beyond the railway yet below 7,000ft) was not presented in the consultation or submission”.

The CAA’s requirements for the Post Implementation Review states: “LLA are to provide a report on the results of the proposed noise monitoring in Sandridge and an outline of any steps to redesign (or not) the SID in that location as a result of the findings.”

For Luton Airport to say that noise monitoring is purely for community use and that it would have no bearing on the CAA review is derisory. Noise monitoring in Sandridge, is in fact, a recommendation from the CAA itself as part of the post implementation review.

SHARON HOLLINGSWORTH
Chair of St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS)

Should we be surprised about the ‘huge hike in complaints’ headlined in your February 9 edition. Not really.

A good and wise Government would seek to manage the demand for aviation growth, but sadly politicians from Sadiq Khan – who authorised City Airport’s expansion - to Theresa May (despite previous opposition to Heathrow), seem hellbent on promoting business interests ahead of public health and in my view human happiness.

Aviation growth is obviously driven by demand in part because airfares are so cheap. They are cheap because passengers do not pay fuel duty or VAT and Airport Passenger Duty (APD) can be as low as £13. People might think this enables hardworking families to take an annual holiday which they might otherwise be unable to afford. The reality is very different.

Undertaxed flights largely benefit affluent people who take advantage of cheap flights by flying many times a year. The fact is most people in the UK do not fly every year and 70 per cent of flights are taken by only 15 per cent of adults.

The impact of flying is very wide-ranging, from impairing children’s learning ability to harming wildlife.

It is also exacerbating our climate crisis; across the world human behaviour is resulting in 30,000 species being forced into extinction every year, and one of the drivers of this extinction process is climate change.

Aviation imposes effects on the climate that are greater than its CO2 emissions and applying a multiplier to account for this in 2014 UK aviation contributed 11.2 per cent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

In the future this is likely to increase, as Government ministers have suggested carbon trading to buy emissions reductions elsewhere could be their preferred approach for Heathrow’s expansion, allowing emissions to soar as the airport expands.

I have created a petition which calls on the Government to correct the anomaly of undertaxed aviation.

I have suggested that the additional revenue raised by applying VAT should be directed to a clearly under-resourced NHS.

The Aviation Environment Federation calculates that if air travellers paid the same rate of tax as motorists on fuel some £10 billion could be raised. This would go some way to resolving pressures in the NHS. If anyone would like to support my petition it can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182932.

If readers consider it ethically acceptable for undertaxed aviation to predominantly benefit affluent frequent fliers then don’t sign my petition. If, alternatively, you value the NHS and think the demand for aviation growth needs tempering through wise fiscal means which target the discretionary spending of those most able to afford it, then please do.

SIMON LEADBEATER
Amenbury Lane, Harpenden

I was honoured to be invited to the retirement party of Madeleine Burton. What a great send-off for such a dedicated and long standing member of the Herts Ad team.

I would also like to say the piece written by Matt Adams in the previous week’s newspaper was brilliant and very touching.

I have known Mad for 13 years, having joined Grove House Hospice as one of the first fundraisers in 2004. With no dedicated PR team for the first couple of years, I found one of my roles was sending off press releases, something I had never done before and I must say that Mad was always helpful and polite about the bits I had written, not very well!

She also sat on a fundraising committee with trustees at the hospice and her knowledge was invaluable to them.

Although I left Grove House four years ago, Mad and I have remained friends and often meet up to gossip about St Albans in general. I wish her all the best with her retirement and hope to continue our meet ups.
LIZ HIZLI
Fundraiser, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Charitable Funds

I would like to use the Herts Advertiser letters page to thank the many people who sent me good wishes on my recent retirement as the paper’s news editor.

I was overwhelmed by the response I got from contributors to the leisure pages, councillors and press officers I have got to know over the years and the generosity of colleagues, both recent and in the past. I can’t thank you all enough.

I was news editor of the Herts Advertiser for many years and during that time, there was never a shortage of news stories. A few of the many spring to mind - the IRA bomb which was intended to destroy a packed Alban Arena, the battle to prevent the then Chequer Street (now Maltings) shopping centre becoming yet another covered ‘Arndale’-type experience, the ill-fated one-way scheme which turned St Albans city centre into a giant car park and the battle to save Sir John Lawes and too many other secondary schools from closure.

Residents of the district have never shirked from campaigning if they don’t like something – and there is still so much to be vigilant about including the proposed rail freight depot in Park Street, the noise of planes from Luton Airport and the impact of new housing schemes both in and outside the St Albans district.

I am proud to say the Herts Advertiser was at the forefront of fighting residents’ battles during my time at the helm and I wish the new team well in continuing that tradition – it is just as vital now as it has ever been.

MADELEINE BURTON


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