Luton Airport expansion plan should be called in, says Harpenden MP

Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles - Credit: Archant

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has again been urged to call in the major expansion of Luton Airport.

Harpenden MP Peter Lilley has repeated his plea for Mr Pickles to “objectively” consider the scheme, after Luton borough council controversially approved expansion of the airport, despite being its owner.

On December 20, just six members of the council’s 11-strong development control committee turned up to a planning meeting where they agreed to nearly double passenger throughput to 18 million a year.

The scheme includes construction of a new taxiway, and extension of the existing taxiway and car park buildings.

But Mr Lilley condemned the council’s decision to “sneak in the planning hearing just before Christmas”.

He added: “I have again written to the Secretary of State urging him to call in the planning application to ensure it receives proper consideration, which is seen to be objective.

“It is essential to make sure that any growth in throughput is made tolerable for those living near the airport and under the flight paths.

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“There are concerns that concessions originally proposed by the operator have not been enshrined in the planning approval granted by Luton.”

Since the scheme was given the green light, local campaigners have exposed a “broken promise” over aircraft noise.

Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) co-founder Andrew Lambourne, of Flamstead, said whereas residents had been promised a reduction in night noise limits to 80dB by January 2015, to be dropped to 77dB thereafter, this had been omitted from conditions attached to the planning application, so the night noise limit would remain at its current 82dB level.

Andrew said: “This is an absolute scandal. One of the key adverse impacts of this expansion is the disproportionate increase in flights late at night and early in the morning.”

He said the six councillors at the committee meeting did not have the “courage” to defer acceptance to finalise adequate planning conditions.

HALE has echoed Mr Lilley’s request for the scheme to be called-in.

However airport operator London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) said it was “delighted” with the approval.

A spokesman said expansion of the airport would help open up new holiday destinations and that, once complete, would make passengers’ journeys quicker.