Proposed flight path changes at Luton Airport could cause disruption to our area, say campaigners
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
There are just eight weeks left for you to have YOUR say on proposed flight path changes at London Luton Airport (LLA).
London Luton Airport (LLA) and air traffic control provider NATS are urging communities to respond to proposed changes to the airport’s arrival paths, before the public consultation period ends on February 5.
The joint consultation is looking at two options to simplify the arrival routes for flights into Luton, and to segregate them from Stansted’s arrivals.
Both proposals include a new hold west of Huntingdon, which would only be used at the busiest times or during adverse weather conditions.
Under the proposal, the lowest aircraft in the holding area would be at 8,000 feet, with no more than one at that altitude. Some new areas may be overflown by Luton arrivals.
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Neil MacArthur, chairman of campaigners HarpendenSky, said: “A major proposed Luton Airport AD6 airspace change proposal shows a repetitive stream of airtraffic above Stevenage and Baldock at under 5,000 feet which will generate a very significant volume of repetitive noise and increase the accumulation of carbon emissions immediately above these town residents.
“It is typical of NATS/Luton Airport to have these public consultations now when there is very little air traffic so nobody is concerned but imagine Luton Airport at full capacity or nearly doubling capacity to 32 million passengers per annum – it will be horrendous and there is no chance of making changes then.
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“Now is the time when Hertfordshire County Council plus North Hertfordshire District Council need to act and firmly oppose AD6 along with residents.”
Andrew Lambourne, speaking for community group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), said: “I think the problem is that people who work in the aviation industry soak up a lot of very complicated, technical jargon and information, which they’re used to using on a day by day basis.
“They genuinely struggle with communicating this to people who have never had anything to do with aviation at all, and simply recognise that planes may or may not fly over their houses or their gardens or wherever they live from time to time.
“I think it’s an issue of developing a skill in communication capability, which for something like an airspace change proposal is a challenge, because not only does the airport have to consult with communities in words that they understand, they also have to present this eventually to the Civil Aviation Authority in a very prescribed way, in very technical terms.
“I think for anybody would be a challenge, but I am a little disappointed in the fact that I think an opportunity has been missed here in bridging that communications gap.”
Andrew added that current documents provided as part of the consultation are “complicated and multilayered”, and are not easily accessible for members of the public to understand.
LADCAN have asked Luton Airport to produce maps detailing the impact of changes to flight paths in the area, with no success thus far.
However, maps produced by LADCAN can be found on their website.
LLA and NATS expect to submit a formal proposal for consideration in Summer 2021, with any changes that are approved will not be in place before 2022.
Neil Thompson, operations director at London Luton Airport, added: “We would encourage anyone in the areas affected to visit the virtual exhibition to find out what the changes might mean for them.
“We have online Q&A sessions available in December and January, so please do register for one and speak to us directly about your concerns.
“Everyone has the right to respond and we want to hear from as many people as possible.”
A spokesperson for ICCAN, the advisory body created to provide independent, impartial advice to government, regulators and the UK aviation industry, said: “It is important that residents and communities have the opportunity to understand what the noise implications of new flight paths will be and feed their views back in a way that demonstrates they have fully understood the proposals.
“Changes to airspace might impact those who currently don’t experience any aviation noise, so we would encourage people to check out the proposals and complete the consultation so that they can comment while the options are still at a formative stage.
“Aviation noise can be quite a complex topic, so we recently developed an online toolkit for airports on how best to approach public consultation on new flight paths. We expect airports to use the toolkit to ensure the public have a meaningful chance to contribute to the consultation.”
To find out more and submit a response, visit nats.aero/vr/ad6.