Harpenden Town Council wants Luton Airport expansion decision deferred

Luton Airport

Luton Airport - Credit: Archant

Objectors to the proposed Luton Airport expansion have warned that should the controversial scheme go ahead, “people will die prematurely”.

Luton borough council’s (LBC) development control committee has this afternoon (Friday) been listening to speakers from Harpenden, Stevenage, Flamstead and Luton commenting on the proposal to nearly double passenger numbers to 18 million a year.

The chair of Flamstead parish council Cllr Hilary Killen asked LBC to defer its decision to give the committee more time to “digest” complex information.

And she criticised LBC officers’ reports for the committee - which recommend the scheme’s approval - as “failing to inspire confidence”.

Commenting on London Luton Airport Operations Ltd’s bid to also increase night flights, Herts county council (HCC) Cllr for Hitchin rural David Barnard said: “Residents have the right to a good night’s sleep.”

Rounds of applause greeted several residents, including Harpenden town Cllr Dr Simon Leadbeater who called on LBC to “do some good” as the impact of increased flights would resonate “across the globe” and not just in and around Luton.

He said there was too little detail on the potential harm to health and the environment in the report being considered by the committee.

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The town council’s airport working group chairman Cllr David Williams said the authority objected to the application, and would ask the Secretary of State to call it in.

He said: “The town council considers 1am departures to Romania and 2.20am arrivals from Ibiza unacceptable. We are sure your residents share the view of our residents that such flights are unnecessary.”

Harpenden resident John Davis, representing Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN), warned that, “whatever the airport may say about only planning for up to 18 million [passengers] there’ll be nothing in practice to stop a bigger increase”.

He said residents suffered “noise complaint fatigue” and were fed up with being disturbed by planes day and night.

Marc Scheimann, of the Green Party, warned councillors that an increase in particulates would “kill people in Luton prematurely”.

Bill Sellicks, speaking for the Hitchin Forum, referred the committee to a recent article in the British Medical Journal which suggested that high levels of aircraft noise were associated with increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

Representatives of the airport have told the committee expansion was vital for the economy, and it would make the best use of the existing infrastructure.

It would also help provide “much-needed capacity in the London market” and additional employment.

Environmental impacts would be mitigated, so it could be the “best neighbour possible”.