Airport not doing enough to prevent global warming, say campaigners

Luton Airport wants to increase passenger numbers to 19 million a year.

Luton Airport wants to increase passenger numbers to 19 million a year. - Credit: LLAL

Aircraft noise campaigners have accused Luton of ignoring international calls to limit aviation growth and reduce emissions in order to save the planet.

Local groups claim planning officials at Luton Borough Council are set to recommend approval of a controversial application to expand capacity at the airport to 19 million a year.

They say the plans by operator London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) would allow the facility to handle more passengers than its existing 2028 limit, and to make more noise overall rather than any reductions as flights become individually quieter.

John Hale of STAQS (St Albans Quieter Skies) said “COP26 ended with a call for everyone to do more to prevent global warming. Despite declaring a climate emergency, Luton council’s response is to continue to try to expand the airport, adding emissions not just from planes but also from vehicles. Instead of joining those wanting to help solve the climate emergency, the council’s aim will just add fuel to the fire."

Andrew Lambourne of LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Airspace Noise) added: “This is a result of mismanagement by the airport operator incentivised by Luton council which then turned a blind eye to the resultant breach of its own planning conditions.

"It’s against the Luton Local Plan and threatens local communities with substantially increasing noise and emissions, as well as being completely unnecessary. Before being permitted to expand, this airport needs to show that it’s capable of earning trust by respecting its legal agreements.”

They claim the airport failed to comply with the existing noise planning conditions between 2017 and 2019, and want those conditions weakened.

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A London Luton Airport spokesperson said in response: “We have followed the necessary planning process and have been committed to openness and complete transparency throughout.

"As well as extensive public consultation beginning in October 2020, the plans have also included a full Environmental Impact Assessment which shows that any adverse impact on the surrounding environment and communities will be minimal.

"Our plans do not propose building any new infrastructure at the airport. This application is focused on making sure the airport has the best possible footing to bounce back from the pandemic and help the local and national economy recover as well as delivering benefits for our passengers, supply chain and the local economy.”

The application will be considered at a special borough council development management committee meeting on Tuesday November 30, with an extra scheduled date the following day if needed.