Campaign groups and MPs come together to tackle Luton aircraft noise
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
District campaign groups and MPs have joined forces to take action against noise and pollution from Luton Airport
St Albans MP Anne Main, Harpenden MP Bim Afolami and several of their constituents met aviation minister Baroness Sugg in Parliament to discuss the negative impact of aircraft noise on residents.
Multiple local campaign groups argue that the introduction of RNAV routing in 2015, which narrowed flight paths, concentrated noise from planes taking off over a smaller area and exacerbated the problem.
The meeting focused on the RNAV route and the delay in the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) review of the flight path over St Albans and Harpenden. The group also discussed concerns that an increase in planes from Heathrow Airport would create more disruption for residents as the airport expands and builds a new runway.
Mrs Main said: “It was crucial that we held this meeting for so many of my constituents who are so severely impacted by Luton overflying.
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“Many in north St Albans are forced to endure almost endless noise and disturbance from these planes and they have rightly felt that the airport and the government have not been listening to their concerns.
“Luton noise has only become a real problem in the last couple of years. This was since the RNAV route came in and planes were concentrated over a small number of people in what many rightly describe as a ‘stiletto effect’.
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“Many people who bought their homes in north St Albans did so without having any idea that they would so be under an extremely noisy flight path.”
London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), which owns the airport, is aiming for an 80 per cent increase in passenger capacity by 2020, which would be achieved by building a second terminal at Wigmore Park.
However local campaign groups believe this will cause an increase in both noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
John Hale, from St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS), said: “A further doubling of aircraft numbers over communities already carrying the noise burden is totally unacceptable to Hertfordshire residents.
“Combined with the 50 per cent increase in flights using Heathrow, many of which already directly overfly St Albans at low altitude, under the third runway proposals even those spared this noise at present may soon become blighted by the motorways in the sky above our heads.”
Speaking for LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), Andrew Lambourne said: “Two board members have recently resigned from LLAL saying that they were not being allowed to speak freely about serious concerns over noise and pollution.
“This is affecting the health and wellbeing of people in Luton and the wider area, and it’s staggering that a Labour-controlled council and a Labour MP do not take more seriously their environmental responsibilities.”
To compensate for the proposed second terminal at Wigmore Park, LLAL would ensure new parkland was provided to the east of the existing park.
LLAL chairman Cllr Andy Malcolm said: “Our preferred option safeguards as much land as possible within Wigmore Valley Park, and provides a new footprint for the parkland and open space which is 10 per cent bigger than the existing and positioned further away from the runway than it is at the moment.
“At the same time that we present more detailed proposals in the autumn, we will also outline how we propose to develop further the support we provide for communities in areas impacted by airport operations.
“There is now a lot more work for us to do make sure our proposals are the very best they can be, and to mitigate and minimise the full range of environmental impacts.”
The CAA’s post-implementation review is to assess whether the change to the flight path has delivered the anticipated impacts and benefits set out in the original proposal and, if not, to find out why and determine the most appropriate course of action.
A CAA spokesperson said: “We fully appreciate the interest of the local community in our review of Luton Airport’s current departure profiles, which were introduced in 2015.
“It is important that this review is conducted to establish if the airport’s original airspace change proposal is now meeting objectives. We will fully brief all interested parties as soon as our work is completed.”