Luton Airport expansion decision is expected for next week

PUBLISHED: 14:55 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:55 12 December 2013

An Easyjet plane takes off from a snowy Luton Airport

An Easyjet plane takes off from a snowy Luton Airport

Archant

The bid to expand Luton Airport will be decided next week, prompting criticism from opponents in Harpenden as it is just days before Christmas.

Luton borough council (LBC) had recently suddenly shelved its ruling on the contentious expansion, after Herts county council questioned both the future capacity of the airfield and the authority’s independence on deciding the bid.

Questions have long been raised about LBC’s impartiality in determining the major scheme, which could result in the doubling of passengers to 18 million a year, as it owns the airport.

The county council’s intervention resulted in LBC postponing its development control committee meeting of November 21, where it was recommended to approve the scheme, while it sought legal clarification.

But Harpenden Town Council’s airport working group chairman Cllr David Williams said he had been notified that the meeting had been reconvened for 10am on Friday, December 20.

He said: “Holding it on the Friday before Christmas is not great.”

Cllr Williams will be speaking at the meeting, highlighting the town council’s opposition to the scheme.

LBC has received 455 objections to the application, and 43 in support.

Among those opposing the plan is Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN), which is fed up with airport noise over St Albans district.

LADACAN, in its objection, warned the council that the proposal could result in capacity being increased to over 30 million passengers per year, and more than 200,000 aircraft movements annually. Like other opponents, the group suggested the scheme should instead be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, as a nationally significant infrastructure project.

A spokeswoman for the borough council said the postponement enabled the authority to obtain a legal opinion confirming whether it was “the right planning body to determine the application”.

She said that advice would be made public to “demonstrate the basis on which any decision [at the meeting] is based”.

While the meeting has been rescheduled for next Friday “to minimise any further delay”, council officers’ recommendation to the committee would not be available until today.

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