Huge hike in complaints in St Albans district about plane noise from Luton Airport

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 08:04 12 February 2017

St Albans man David Aston, who took this photo at New Greens, asks:

St Albans man David Aston, who took this photo at New Greens, asks: "Who says that we don't get many planes over St Albans?"

Photo supplied by David Aston

St Albans is at risk of ‘turning into Heathrow’ if noise pollution from Luton Airport is not tackled immediately, residents have warned.

While the airfield has recently boasted that 2016 was a record breaking year, with 14.5 million passengers travelling through Luton, that figure coincides with a 150 per cent increase in complaints about noise.

Three campaign groups, representing St Albans, Harpenden and wider-Hertfordshire have banded together to call upon local politicians to do more than merely call for a review or consultation on the problem.

They want Bedfordshire-based Luton to fly its planes - which cross above dense residential areas every few minutes, including on Sundays – over its own area, and away from Hertfordshire.

A spokesperson for the alliance of HarpendenSky, Save our Skies (SoS) and Herts-based LADACAN said: “Luton Airport is growing rapidly, with millions of extra passengers and thousands of additional flights per year.

“Planes are getting bigger, heavier and noisier, and are flying even earlier in the morning and later at night.

“Aircraft noise is now prevalent across Hertfordshire, affecting Flamstead, Redbourn, Harpenden, St Albans, and on to Sandridge and Stevenage. Complaints have recently increased by over 150 per cent, with a record number of new complainants.”

The campaign groups asked: “What are our local politicians doing about it? They appear unable to actually do anything.

“Fearful of affecting ‘the economy’, politicians are not unambiguously demanding a ban on night flights from Luton, or tighter caps on the number of flights or the routing of planes away from Herts altogether.”

This paper has continued to receive complaints from locals, fed up with the din.

One St Albans man recently warned: “St Albans is turning into Heathrow and the whole city will be much the worse for it if some immediate action isn’t taken. I’m writing on behalf of a local resident who has been laid up at home after hospital treatment to say that the overhead noise from absolutely ridiculous.”

He added: “The constant noise polluting St Albans and Sandridge has now become intolerable. It’s not an occasional plane, it is almost incessant, from dawn to late at night.”

St Albans resident Joanne Pearce-Westrop said there appeared to be more lower-flying planes over the district, with noisier jet engines, including during weekends.

She said that many local schools must also be afflicted by ‘continual noise pollution’ from Luton.

The alliance explained that the recent introduction of a new GPS-based aircraft navigation system, RNAV, has concentrated flights into a ‘wall of noise’ that extends right across the countryside and affects all the communities on either side.

This was introduced following a low-key ‘consultation’ which claimed that far fewer people would be overflown.

The campaign groups said: “This is a completely misleading claim, since aircraft noise propagates sideways. Yet how many of our politicians have denounced this RNAV ‘consultation’ as fatally flawed?

“The whole point of the Localism Act was to enable local government to tackle issues of importance to local communities.”

The alliance has also hit out at Luton borough council, which owns the airport, and “has pocketed over £95 million in profits” from it. While “Bedfordshire gets the gain, Hertfordshire gets the pain – noise and air pollution in ever-increasing amounts,” the campaigners said.

They have called upon councillors and politicians throughout Herts to “get off the fence and act in order to protect our communities from blight”.

St Albans MP Anne Main said that, in the near future, she will be meeting with residents, and is currently seeking answers on how the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation will affect this area.

Harpenden MP Peter Lilley has called on the Department for Transport to include Luton Airport in its consultation on night flight restrictions at London airports.

He said: “The noise caused by night flights from Luton is particularly distressing for those affected. As London grows, air traffic is increasing. There were 4,897 night flights into and out of Luton Airport between July and September 2016 – 12 per cent more than during the same period in 2015.”

The department recently launched a consultation on the night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports – but not Luton.

• If you are being affected by Luton Airport noise, please lodge a complaint: http://www.london-luton.co.uk/corporate/community/noise/talking-to-lla/making-a-noise-complaint


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