County backlash against Luton Airport expansion bid

Luton Airport

Luton Airport - Credit: Archant

Plans to expand Luton Airport to accommodate 36 to 38 million passengers have met with concern from Hertfordshire county council.

The owners of the airport, Luton borough council, have defended their plans for the growth, arguing that the 20-year Luton Investment Framework will create 18,500 jobs and benefit the regional economy.

Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) and Luton council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “London Luton Airport is a huge success story. On the back of 44 consecutive months of passenger growth, it is the fifth largest and fastest growing major airport in the UK, sustaining an estimated 33,000 jobs across the region, and contributing more than £1.5bn per year into the UK economy.

“The airport’s growth has been so fast in fact that at its current rate it is due to reach the current permitted capacity of 18 mppa [million passengers per annum] in 2021.”

For every million passengers travelling through the airport, there is an estimated increase of up to 800 new jobs and a £76m uplift for the regional economy.

Cllr Malcolm added: “We are acutely aware of the consequences of having an international airport on the doorstep. Our commitment is to bring forward not only a more modern and efficient but also an environmentally and socially responsible London Luton Airport.”

The county council, while recognising the potential economic benefits of the expansion, shares the concerns of noise campaign groups who are worried about the impact increased air travel will have on the community.

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County council leader David Williams said: “I can imagine how news of this proposal will be received in the communities in Hertfordshire whose lives are already blighted by aircraft noise created by the airport, even with the current passenger numbers. My main concern at this stage, therefore, is the impact this news will impact will have on those communities.

“My other immediate concern is the transport implications. How can that level of growth possibly be achieved without compromising the capacity of our road and rail systems and how can it be done in a way which shifts journeys to the airport away from the car and towards public transport?”