Luton Airport expansion could ‘gridlock’ St Albans roads

Luton Airport

Luton Airport - Credit: Archant

FURTHER traffic gridlock on St Albans roads would ensue should Luton Airport get the go-ahead for a major expansion, a campaigner in Wheathampstead has cautioned.

Judy Shardlow, who lives in the village, criticised the airport’s scheme to double passenger numbers to 18 million a year, saying Luton’s planning application traffic impact assessment was “flawed”.

Campaigners throughout the district are urging residents to join the growing battle against Luton Airport’s bid, with the Herts Advertiser backing their fight to protect our skies by launching an online petition.

Judy said the airport’s scheme, open to consultation until February 18, “takes no account of, or responsibility for, the traffic impacts beyond the immediate vicinity of the airport”.

Currently about 80 per cent of the airport’s 9.5 million passengers travel to it by car, taxi or bus.

Its scheme explains traffic flows around the immediate access junctions to the airport but no mapping has been done to assess the affect on the Harpenden and Wheathampstead sections of the Luton Road (A1081) and Lower Luton Road (B653).

Judy asked: “Does Luton Airport just expect that cars materialise at its boundary and not cause major gridlock on the wider east/west Hertfordshire roads? Or that potential traffic volumes on these roads is ‘someone else’s problem’?”

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She went on: “Currently just 17.2 per cent of passengers arrive by train. The rest arrive by car, taxi or bus, using roads in Herts including the A1081 and B653.

“Luton Airport hasn’t done the maths of just how many cars are travelling on Hertfordshire roads to get to the airport because they might be held partly accountable for the ruinous state of many of the roads that lead directly to the airport.

“The volume of traffic and poor state of these roads is already an issue and growth plans will have a significant and detrimental impact on Herts’ already creaking infrastructure.

“Hertfordshire residents will bear the financial burden of damage to our roads as well as the damage to our quality of life caused by gridlocked roads.”

She has urged residents to lobby St Albans district council and MP for Hitchin and Harpenden Peter Lilley to have the scheme called in for independent determination by the Planning Inspectorate.

However the MP for St Albans Anne Main has recently received a reply from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Planning) Nick Boles to her request for the expansion to be referred to Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles.

Mr Boles said it was up to Luton borough council to consider the proposal and decide whether it needed referring to Mr Pickles for it to be called in.

He added that while Mr Pickles could decide to call in the application for his own decision regardless of whether the application is formally referred to him or not, he only did so “where issues of national importance arise”.

To comment on the scheme go to (application number 12/01400)