SIR, - Re the proposed further expansion of Luton Airport. 1.) The draft Master Plan proposes a devastating attack on the countryside of North Herts. It envisages a two-runway airport on a site which is already far from ideal for existing operations. In o
SIR, - Re the proposed further expansion of Luton Airport. 1.) The draft Master Plan proposes a devastating attack on the countryside of North Herts. It envisages a two-runway airport on a site which is already far from ideal for existing operations. In order to achieve this, a substantial area of highly-attractive and protected landscape would have to be destroyed, wiping out large swathes of Herts Green Belt and Conservation Areas between Luton and Harpenden. Such an intrusion is wholly unacceptable and flies in the face of Government policy both for the protection of the countryside and for the future of aviation. Inappropriate development in the Green Belt can only be considered in very exceptional circumstances. There can be few more inappropriate forms of development in the Green Belt than an airport runway and associated buildings, together with all the noise and pollution. Very special circumstances are not demonstrated in the Master Plan - in fact quite the opposite in view of Government policy in the Aviation White Paper which specifically does not support a second runway at Luton. 2.) The Luton site is quite unsuitable for a major airport due to the topography, the nearness of towns and villages, the effect on the tranquillity of the surrounding countryside, and the poor access, whether by public or private transport. CPRE has extensive knowledge of the impact of aviation on loss of tranquillity and commissioned a detailed report, "Aviation, Noise and the Countryside", in June 2003. It is nonsense to suggest, as the Master Plan does, that a threefold increase in passenger throughput will not massively reduce tranquillity over a wide area and exacerbate all the other existing negative impacts. The assertion that eventually more-modern, quieter aircraft would improve tranquillity is completely negated by the sheer volume of the proposed increase in air-traffic movements. The hugely-damaging effects of the plan's proposals are made clear in the accompanying Sustainability Appraisal which lists 19 adverse environmental impacts of the plan on the sustainability objectives in the appraisal. 3.) The road and rail systems in the area currently suffer severe congestion and planned improvements are to cope with existing problems, not increased traffic due to airport expansion. Luton Airport already has the highest proportion of passengers arriving by car or taxi of any UK airport and its closeness to Luton contributes to the traffic problems in the town. The suggestion that 35 per cent of passengers would arrive by public transport is unrealistic, and in any case would leave some 20 million arriving by car if the forecast growth took place. Any significant expansion of the airport would therefore inevitably result in pressure for road building through the surrounding countryside, which would be highly damaging and strongly resisted. KEVIN FITZGERALD, Hon Director, Herts Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).