Daisy Cooper calls for government intervention in Luton Airport expansion
- Credit: Archant
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper has asked Parliament to call in Luton Airport's application to increase their passenger numbers to 19 million a year.
Daisy led a debate in the House of Commons about Luton's proposed expansion, which also included North East Beds MP Richard Fuller and Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden.
She explained that in the decade to 2019, passenger numbers at Luton Airport had more than doubled, exceeding the current approved capacity of 18 million, which it was not due to hit until 2028.
To remedy this breach, the airport is applying for permission to formally expand to 19 million passengers annually.
The airport is also drawing up longer-term plans to expand to 32 million passengers per year. The huge rise in the number of planes has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in aircraft movements, and this in turn has been compounded by all planes being required to navigate a narrow corridor between St Albans and Harpenden.
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“The most pressing concern of my constituents is the noise from those flights,” Daisy told the Commons. “For many, the noise disrupts their peace and quiet and their sleep and rest, and is a major distraction from work and recreation.
"There is also increasing evidence that this noise can have a profound effect on physical and mental health.
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“Approval in 2012 for the increase to 18 million passengers went hand in hand with noise control limits to be achieved by modernisation of the operating fleet, so as the skies got busier, they would become quieter. But according to local campaign groups the opposite has happened,” she said.
Daisy pressed transport minister Robert Courts on what steps he could take to compel Luton Airport to keep its promises to implement real, meaningful noise-mitigation measures, and to speed up the much-needed improvements for Herts residents.
She also asked the minister to commit to ensuring that there is no further growth in capacity at Luton until the promised noise reductions are delivered and aircraft have switched to sustainable fuel.
“Any further expansion to the airport must take into account the devastating impact of increased air traffic on climate change and the great health consequences of further air pollution on neighbouring districts,” she said.
Daisy advocated for the airport’s current application for a development control order is ‘called in’ for scrutiny by the secretary of state: “That is absolutely critical to restore the trust of our local communities.
"A first step on that journey would be to make sure that the decision is not only impartial, but seen to be impartial.”
A Luton Airport spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that during last week’s debate, the aviation minister recognised the importance of London Luton Airport as a key employer and a key UK transport hub.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the UK aviation sector, wiping out more than 20 years’ of passenger growth in a matter of months. While we are focused on our short term survival it’s imperative that we also take steps now to ensure LLA is in the best possible position to recover.
"By submitting an application to increase capacity to 19 million passengers a year, we are preparing the airport for future success and creating reassurance for the thousands of people and the many local businesses who rely on us through the supply chain."