Luton Airport noise monitoring for St Albans

London Luton Airport Terminal

London Luton Airport Terminal - Credit: Archant

NOISE monitoring equipment is to be placed on the northern outskirts of St Albans to gauge plane noise while Luton Airport trials a new navigation system.

Problems with planes straying out of an official flight path from the airfield and flying over St Albans homes has prompted the airport to start testing a more precise satellite navigation system.

The trial at Woollams playing fields in Harpenden Road, the home of the Old Albanian Rugby Club, is being conducted in two phases, the first of which started last Thursday (7) and ends April 18. The second is from April 19 until May 24.

The airport is keen to receive residents’ feedback during the trial, to determine whether the system is helping to lessen plane noise.

Sabra Swinson, a spokeswoman for St Albans campaign group Save Our Skies, said that she and other residents, campaigners and representatives of local councils had attended a recent meeting held by the airport to explain the changes.

They were told that all major airlines at Luton were participating including Wizz Air, Monarch, Ryanair and easyJet.

However DHL and cargo planes have declined a request to also join in.

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Freight planes are a peripheral part of the airport’s business and the A300 aircraft departures are a source of a disproportionate number of night noise violations and complaints.

Sabra said that Luton representatives told those at the meeting that most planes and crews, but not all, could use the new navigation system, which is also being tested by all major airports.

During the trials planes will fly at 4,000 feet rather than the current 3,000 feet, before being vectored off. If the new system works, planes will only vary by 0.5km from the noise preferential route (NPR) rather than the current 1.5km.

Forty per cent of the trials will be flying the Dover-Clacton route.

Sabra said Luton explained that noise monitoring equipment would be placed at sites including Woollams.

She added: “The sting in the tail for St Albans is that the trial route avoids Harpenden and Redbourn but, according to the map [showing the trial route] goes over Childwickbury estate, by Old Albanian RFC, and right over Sandridge, so north St Albans will be affected.

“The other issue is that the trials are our only opportunity to influence the new route.”

She and other campaigners are urging residents to provide feedback to the airport – good or bad – which can be emailed to or phone 01582 395699.

Neil MacArthur, who spearheaded a campaign against planes flying low over built-up Harpenden suburbs, echoed Sabra’s comments, saying that resident participation was “vital”.

He said that he was pleased that the trial would concentrate air traffic into a much narrower swathe, and take the aircraft away from Harpenden.

“If the trial is successful then a formal application will be made for a permanent change.

“The success of the trial depends upon the degree of positive response so we are encouraging Harpenden residents to ensure they report their experiences back to Luton Airport.”