Flamstead church annoyed by Luton Airport noise

FATHER John Green could be forgiven for thinking the noisy sky above his historic church in Flamstead is more of an aerial highway than a stairway to heaven.

St Leonard’s parish church’s two-feet-thick walls are simply no match for the steady cacophony of planes flying every five minutes over the church roof.

Even the ringing of the church’s solid bells, including a 1664 one that pre-dates the Great Fire of London, can’t drown out the plane noise.

While the church, some of which dates back to Norman times, serves as a beacon of hope for visitors, Fr John jokes that he does sometimes wonder whether it is also used as a beacon for planes flying directly overhead.

He said: “It appears they are using the tower as a turning point.”

On a more serious note, however, he is very concerned that the noise is simply becoming too unbearable for some of his congregation, who are being forced from the village as a result.

Luton Airport recently announced that it is pushing plans to double passenger numbers to 18 million people a year.

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Fr John said: “I have got parishioners moving out because the noise is causing distress. One couple moved here for peace and quiet, and that is not what they are getting.

“The noise is an irritant, particularly at 8am on Sunday – it is a time for a quiet communion service, and I can’t have quiet communion services any more.

“We have got noise all the time. It is ridiculous and very unkind. Inevitably there is background noise from the M1, but that is a hum as opposed to the roar of planes.”

Fr John said the constant noise also made it unpleasant when conducting funeral and wedding services. He has protested to the airport about the problem, but to no avail.

The consultation period on Luton’s masterplan has ended, with the airport to submit a planning application for its expansion scheme to its owner, Luton borough council, shortly.