Herts Ad joins fight against airport news

FEARS of reduced house prices, increased plane noise and pollution have prompted the launch of a St Albans city-based campaign group to fight the proposed major expansion of Luton Airport.

Save Our Skies (SOS) joins the growing chorus of anti-expansion campaigners in the district, giving residents of the city another voice to address concerns about increased flights from Luton over St Albans.

The Herts Advertiser is backing the SOS campaign following complaints from readers about the intrusion of plane noise, including during evenings and weekends.

Our sister paper The Comet in Stevenage has recently launched a similar campaign highlighting concerns about the impact of increased planes flying over homes in Herts.

Villagers around St Albans were recently left stunned after learning there are two major expansion schemes for Luton Airport. One bid is to increase passenger numbers to up to 16 million a year while a second aims to, initially, fly 18 million people.

Airport operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) and airport owner Luton borough council are both pursuing separate controversial expansion bids.

A founder of SOS, Sabra Swinson, said: “From emails and conversations with friends and neighbours we know that increasing numbers of residents are being affected by aircraft noise, particularly those in north St Albans and nearby Sandridge.

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“We wanted to give a platform for St Albans residents to find out more and to register their comments or concerns.”

The group will shortly carry out a leaflet drop in key areas and has also launched a website www.saveourskies.co.uk giving links to lodge noise complaints and obtain further information.

The formation of a fourth group in the district either fighting the two schemes or the incidence of low-flying planes has not surprised Harpenden resident John Davis of Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN).

He said: “The more people who stand up and are counted, the better. The real danger is apathy.”

A Jersey Farm resident recently wrote to LLAOL asking why there seemed to be a recent “excess” in planes flying over the area.

She was told that all aircraft leaving Luton were required to follow flightpaths, including a corridor over St Albans, up to an altitude of 3,000ft during the day or 4,000ft at night.

But the airport maintained it had held discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) about designing a new route following complaints from residents about planes flying over residential areas.

Former mayor of St Albans, Chris Oxley, a resident of Wheathampstead for 40 years, has written to the LLAOL objecting to its scheme.

He warned that should it be approved it would have a “potential major adverse impact on the local infrastructure in particular the Lower Luton/Lower Harpenden Roads”.

Chris added: “Roads in the vicinity of Hatfield, Wheathampstead, Harpenden and Luton Airport are already full and a major problem because of traffic and pollution from traffic.

“Buses serving young people and the elderly are frequently delayed due to traffic volume.”

An airport press officer said that there would be a detailed environmental impact assessment including evaluation of future noise impacts and mitigation measures when it submitted its planning application.

She added that many people “strongly” supported benefits of the scheme, including an estimated �250 million boost in annual revenue for the likes of central government and Luton borough council.

Consultation on the airport’s masterplan ends next Wednesday, April 25.