Fears over impact of Luton airport expansion

CAMPAIGNERS in Harpenden and villages around St Albans have voiced their concern over the environmental impact of the proposed major expansion of Luton Airport.

HarpendenSky.com and Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) have joined forces to ask a series of environmental questions ahead of the submission of Luton borough council’s planning application to expand the airport.

The council is both the major shareholder in the airport and the local planning authority.

It received �22.2 million from the airport in 2010/11, which goes towards keeping Luton’s council tax low.

Its consultants have recently discussed the council’s initial plans at exhibitions in St Albans, with more details of the scheme to be released when the application is submitted in April.

HALE and HarpendenSky have demanded an environmental impact assessment to look beyond Luton’s borders and consider the effect of hundreds of additional flights a day on neighbouring communities such as Flamstead and Redbourn.

They have asked about the impact on local roads including the M1, A1081, A505 and Lower Luton Road.

Most Read

There are concerns too about the effect on local water supplies should the council get the go-ahead to carry an additional nine million passengers and employ 6,000 more staff.

With the airport receiving thousands of noise complaints, campaigners have asked for investigations into the impact on those living within three kilometres of the airport or overflown by planes at less than 7,000ft.

Local campaigners have also criticised information released at the council’s recent exhibition as “misleading”.

They have questioned claims that over time, noise from the airport will reduce despite the number of passengers doubling to 18 million per year.

Andrew Lambourne, of Flamstead, said he and other residents had looked closely at noise data from Luton Airport’s annual monitoring reports.

He went on: “We found that in 2005, eight per cent of departing daytime flights were above 76dbA, the noise level that the government defines as resulting in community annoyance.

“By 2010 this had doubled to 16 per cent.

“At night, 10 per cent of flights were louder than 76dbA in 2005 and this had also doubled by 2010 to 20 per cent.”

Wheathampstead parish councillor Judy Shardlow, who maintains the No More Flights website said: “Luton has no restrictions on night flights, unlike other airports in the South East.

“Over the years the passenger capacity at Luton Airport has been steadily increasing.

“Our roads are clogged with and damaged by airport traffic and our communities are overflown day and night by off-track aircraft.

She added: “It is time that local residents say ‘enough is enough’ and reject Luton borough council’s plans which will blight our communities.”

People have until March 26 to respond to the initial consultation before a planning application is submitted to expand the airport next month.

n Harpenden town council is asking residents for their opinion on the scheme.

The town’s mayor Cllr Michael Weaver said: “The airport expansion is going to have a significant impact upon Harpenden. We cannot pretend that it isn’t.”

You can get involved by signing up to the issue response section on the council’s website www.harpenden.gov.uk