County council to consider environmental impact of Luton Airport expansion on Hertfordshire
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Environmental concerns may affect the expansion of Luton Airport in a potential review of Herts County Council’s policy
Cllr Derrick Ashley, executive member for environment, planning and transport, signalled there could be a review of policy in relation to airport growth, allowing for greater weight to be given to protecting the environment.
The issue was raised in a full council meeting by Conservative Cllr Annie Brewster, who is also a member of St Albans District Council. She particularly highlighted Luton Airport's expansion plans.
Cllr Ashley, speaking on the same day the county council declared a climate emergency, said the council had always taken the view that economic benefits needed to be balanced with the impact on the environment, both on the ground and in the air. However he suggested that, in future, greater weight could be given to environmental concerns.
He said: "I think the balance is now shifting more towards the environmental issues and away from strictly economic issues, that I think were the priorities in the past.
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"So I would agree that we do need to look now at how we view airport expansion - the impact on the ground, the impact relative to climate change and whether the environmental impact now takes a much higher priority than perceived economic benefits."
Cllr Ashley accepted that in recent years there had been a much bigger increase in passenger numbers than anticipated, and larger planes with more passengers on every flight were having a 'substantial' impact in the air and on the ground.
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At the meeting, Cllr Brewster pointed to the airport's ambition to expand to accommodate 32 million passengers a year, and the impact of low-flying planes on communities.
She said: "I believe our policy was to avoid the building of an additional runway at Luton, but not designed to encourage the packing of every second with maximum aircraft movement."
Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) said: "We are absolutely committed to developing our proposals in the right way, in particular by making sure that sure our strategies for minimising and mitigating environmental impacts are the very best they can be, and fully consulting with communities."