Luton Airport expansion plan would require destruction of villages

PUBLISHED: 06:50 19 August 2013

Luton Airport

Luton Airport

Archant

ENTIRE villages could be wiped out to accommodate a four-runway airport in Luton, a new report is proposing.

It was submitted last week to the Airports Commission by a firm of architects, WestonWilliamson+Partners, which claims it is acting independenly and is proposing four runways at Luton.

In order to build the additional runways between Luton and Kimpton, the report says residents in Breachwood Green and Peter’s Green would have to be “relocated”.

And it adds: “Although this would be a loss, the environmental disruption would be minimal compared to a new estuary airport.”

The report says a new four runway hub airport should be built at Luton for a number of reasons.

They include the location which is described as the best to serve the population of the UK, the existing infrastructure, the likelihood that fewer people would be exposed to noise above 55Db compared to Heathrow and there is sufficient space and reasonably flat low-grade agricultural land available.

The costs estimated at £25 billion are much lower than other options and the report suggests that British Airways would be supportive of a new four runway hub at Luton.

It admits that the current owners of the existing airport would not support a four runway hub but suggests that they are currently drawing up a sale strategy and a change of ownership could ‘bring new ambition’.

WestonWilliamson say there will be no impact on Kimpton or East Hyde, just outside Harpenden, but residents of Peter’s Green and Breachwood Green would have to be ‘relocated’ and properties, including listed buildings, demolished.

In a joint statement, Luton Borough Council and London Luton Airport Ltd., said that neither of them had been aware of the report and described the plans as ‘unworkable’.

The statement went on: “The idea of positioning a new airport immediately to the south of Luton was first raised in a 2005 masterplan which was subsequently found to be unrealistic, largely because of cost and the site’s valley location.

“While we recognise the need for a UK hub airport to be located within the South-East of England, neither the topography of this site nor the current airport is suited to the requirement.”

Their current plans to expand the airport are focussed on increasing capacity from around 10 million to around 18 million passengers a year by 2025 but continuing with the existing single runway and within the current boundary of the site.

But the statement adds: “We are pleased that their thinking confirms Luton’s strengths as a great location to do business, with excellent transport links, however the theory behind the report has not been discussed with the airport owner or the people of Luton and its surrounding communities. Had it been, we may have been able to explain the impracticalities of their desktop research proposal.”

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley described the proposal as ludicrous and said it would never get off the ground “in any sense of the word”

And Andrew Lambourne of HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion) commented: “All they have really done is to review which airports might be able to serve which parts of the country and are close to what transport links without declaring any kind of quantified capacity target and hence impact on those transport links.”

He pointed out that areas such as Harpenden had been left off the analysis of impacted locations because the architects, “seem to be thinking only of ground works and not at all about noise and environmental impact.”


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