Luton Airport to be lobbied by St Albans residents over plane noise

A Ryanair plane comes in to land at Luton airport

A Ryanair plane comes in to land at Luton airport - Credit: Archant

St Albans and Harpenden residents blighted by plane noise have been offered a glimmer of hope that the problem could be tackled.

About 50 people, including six district councillors, attended an invitation-only meeting on Thursday, September 1 to discuss concerns over increased aircraft noise, along with the intrusion and frequency of flights from Luton Airport since last year.

Among those attending was Andrew Lambourne, of Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN), who goes to noise meetings at the airport, and lobbies on behalf of communities around it.

He showed residents slides of flight paths used before and since Luton Airport initiated route changes, creating a narrower swathe, in August last year.

Councillors told Andrew that they were now regularly receiving many complaints about noise, where previously there had been “none”.

One resident complained after counting 14 planes in just 40 minutes, which interfered with watching EastEnders, and being unable to enjoy the garden.

Andrew told them meeting there were a variety of factors contributing to the issue, including a significant concentration of flights above Sandridge and surrounding communities as well as an increase in the number of planes – between 2013 and 2015, those taking the westerly Match/Detling departure route rose by 48 per cent.

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There have also been “significantly more flights early morning, morning, afternoon, evening and late at night”.

He added: “People are being disturbed more and more by flights during anti-social hours.”

Andrew later told the Herts Advertiser that a steering group would be set up by local residents to look further at the problem.

In the meantime, LADACAN has agreed to ask Luton for an opportunity to provide feedback to be presented by community representatives to the airport’s operators.

Andrew said that it appeared there has been a steady increase of planes in the “noisier noise bands” and that after studying flight data, “people are not imagining it”.

Herts in particular was “blighted” by plane noise, including Stevenage and Welwyn.

He said that by seeking a meeting with the airport’s operators, “we can work together to try and find the best path to a resolution. It might mean spreading the flights again [as in previous years].

“It would be a vital step forward if we can coordinate efforts and ask the operator for a chance to say how people feel.”

St Albans district council has also made its feelings clear on the problem, with head of planning, Tracy Harvey, calling upon Neil Thompson, Luton’s operations director, to respond to complaints.

In a letter she said there had been an increase in “local resident complaints to my council about the volume of flights, routes taken, location of flights, overflying of residential areas and consequent noise impacts.”

Tracy said the “level of noise nuisance had increased since the introduction of RNAV (GPS based aircraft navigation technology), in particular within the Batchwood, Marshalswick North, Marshalswick South and Sandridge wards; areas that are at the southern edge of the RNAV route.”

She asked Neil to arrange local information and consultation meetings to “address current issues” and for more details about a route proposed by Luton, which may move north of Sandridge and over Nomansland.

Cllr Bert Pawle, who represents the council at an airport consultation committee, said: “This letter is intended to ensure the airport is aware of concerns and that they are taken into account when reviewing the new navigation system.”