Campaigners’ joy as Herts County Council oppose ‘unacceptable’ Luton Airport expansion
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners are rejoicing after Hertfordshire County Council voted unanimously to oppose Luton Airport’s expansion.
At a full council meeting on Wednesday, November 26, the council voted to oppose the expansion to 32 million passengers per annum (mppa), on the grounds that it would result in "unacceptable" harm to the environment.
Cllr John Hale, who represents Colney Heath and Marshalswick wards in St Albans, said: "Expanding the airport to 32 million passengers a year when we are trying to reduce carbon emissions is madness.
"The impact on residents in terms of increased noise and pollution is unacceptable."
The airport, which is owned by London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), is currently running a series of statutory public consultations across Hertfordshire and neighbouring counties over its future plans. At the moment the airport is close to reaching its existing capacity of 18 mppa.
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Luton's expansion plans cannot be authorised without a development consent order (DCO) from the government, which will have to undergo a public examination by the Planning Inspectorate before the final decision is made by the Secretary of State for Transport.
If the schedule runs on time, work could begin in 2022, subject to planning permission. Work has already begun on the Luton DART (Direct Air-Rail Transit) project to provide passenger transport from Luton Airport Parkway Station to the airport.
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Campaigners have objected to the expansion out of concerns for its impact on the environment, traffic and noise pollution for people living below flight paths.
Neil MacArthur, chairman of campaign group HarpendenSky, said: "HarpendenSky are absolutely delighted with this firm resolve from the county which, we understand, will be reflected in the HCC response to the Luton Airport expansion consultation process currently under way."
Climate change campaigners, including the group Stop Luton Airport Expansion (SLAE), have spoken to residents outside each consultation venue.
Sarah Bremlin, who lives between Luton and Harpenden, said: "At a time when we know we're heading for a complete and utter climate disaster, the idea that we want to double the footfall at Luton Airport fills me with rage.
"I know it brings jobs. I know what benefits the airport has brought to the town, but it's bigger than us now.
However Chrissy Haine, who is also from Luton, said: "I think it's a good project overall. It will have quite an impact on Luton.
"It increases jobs in the area, boosts trade and overall will bring more people into the airport."
Campaign group St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS) formed to oppose the increase in aircraft noise since the introduction of the RNAV navigation system in 2015.
A STAQS spokesman said: "The UK air industry wants to expand by a further 70 per cent. All this when we have a very serious global climate change crisis with a known tipping point of 10 years' time.
"Since the implementation of RNAV and the extremely rapid growth of Luton Airport, our area has become blighted by aircraft noise."
Ciaran Scanlon, programme delivery director for LLAL, said: "We are committed to minimising and mitigating environmental impacts, including for noise, biodiversity, climate change, air quality and highways.
"We are proposing phased and sustainable long-term growth of London Luton Airport to help meet the government's projected shortfall in national aviation of 60 million passenger journeys per year by 2050, and for the very significant economic and employment benefits it would deliver.
"It is projected that our proposals for expansion would provide 16,000 new jobs and an annual £2bn increase in UK economic activity.
"We are also proposing a new fund that would provide additional support up to £14m a year for communities for impact reduction schemes, to supplement our existing package of community funding that is already by far the most generous in the country."
LLAL is encouraging as many people as possible to attend the community drop-in consultation events, and provide their feedback by Monday, December 16.
The statutory consultation, and details of the consultation events, can be viewed at futureluton.llal.org.uk.