Harpenden town council opposing Luton Airport expansion plans

An Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport

An Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport - Credit: Archant

WITH ongoing evening noise violations and complaints from residents, Luton Airport should not be allowed to become London’s low-cost airline night flight airfield “of choice” according to a Harpenden councillor.

Harpenden town council has sent a detailed objection to Luton’s planning application to double passenger numbers and extend its taxiway, pointing out that it should be an independent authority and not the airport’s owner, Luton borough council, that decides the scheme.

The town council said it was “strongly of the view” the application would best be decided by the Planning Inspectorate instead.

Town Mayor Cllr Nicola Linacre said: “The operator argues that aircraft fleet modernisation will mitigate noise from more flights yet easyJet is currently modernising its fleet with larger, more powerful and noisier aircraft.

“If we don’t have quieter planes then extra growth in aircraft movements and passenger numbers shouldn’t be allowed.”

The council’s airport working group chairman Cllr David Williams added: “There is simply no reasonable justification for scheduled short haul aircraft movements at night such as an easyJet flight that arrives from Ibiza at 2.20am.

“Luton cannot be allowed to become London’s low-cost airline night flight airport of choice.

Most Read

“As the operator’s priority is to grow the daytime scheduled and charter business, the town council has argued that it should halt night time freight flights that are a peripheral part of its business and a major source of disturbance and complaints.”

In terms of night flights the airport is seeking to have 10,200 flights per annum between 11.30pm and 6am, a significant hike from 6,466 movements at the same time in 2011.

Luton wants to increase the number of planes it can accommodate overnight by increasing the loading and unloading stands and modifying the taxiways to raise the hourly movement rate of the runway.

But the town council said it was opposed to the application because of noise impact, the effect on local and national infrastructure and a lack of transparency with the borough council deciding its airport’s future shape.

The council said that much of the impact of expansion would fall on Hertfordshire’s roads including the High Street (A1081) and the A505 and B653.

Cllr Williams added that there was a further conflict of interest in that the council wants the airport operator to provide access to the proposed Century Park development via the terminal approach road with the construction of a tunnel to the business park.

He said it would be an “accident waiting to happen” given current traffic congestion at the site.

Cllr Williams said the town council was also dubious about the long-term goal of the airport with fears that, should its scheme be approved, it would continue to expand as it has previously revealed that its ultimate goal was to carry 30 million passengers a year – up from the nine million it currently flies.