‘Airport expansion plans will affect all our lives’ say St Albans campaigners

PUBLISHED: 09:28 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:30 12 July 2018

An Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOO

An Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Aircraft noise campaigners are urging members of the public to have their say in an impending consultation on Luton Airport’s expansion.

An Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOOAn Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOO

London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), the company which owns Luton Aiport, is holding a consultation on expanding to accommodate 38 million passengers per year. The airport is currently ahead of schedule in its £160 million expansion to 18 million passengers per year, which is set to be completed by 2020.

The drop-in consultation session will be held on Friday from 2pm to 8pm at the Jubilee Centre in Catherine Street, St Albans. There will also be an exhibition at Harpenden Public Hall on Wednesday, July 18, from 2pm to 8pm.

Anti-noise groups have been campaigning to reduce noise pollution which they argue increased since the introduction of the RNAV navigation system in 2015, which narrowed flight paths and concentrated noise over a smaller area.

Peter Crowder, who lives in Lancaster Road and represents residents of Bernards Heath and Marshalswick South wards affected by aircraft noise, is urging residents to attend the drop-in session.

An Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOOAn Easyjet plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOO

He said: “[St Albans residents’] everyday lives, mental and physical health as well as their children’s could be seriously adversely affected by these new proposals. What is stopping Luton Airport fast tracking this next expansion like they have with their current expansion?

“Currently Luton’s new RNAV route and breakneck expansion has reached 16 million and this has already had an appalling noise impact to many residents in north St Albans, Jersey Farm and Sandridge.

“Noise complaints dramatically increased after the new RNAV route was introduced in 2015 and nothing has been implemented to mitigate the serious noise issues on this route since then.”

Campaigner Andrew Lambourne, of LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), accused LLAL of putting cash profits before the quality of life for residents living below flight paths.

A Wizz Air plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOOA Wizz Air plane takes off from Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOO

He said: “All the tick-box questions force respondents to select between different ways of expanding, with no option to say ‘none of the above’.

“By taking part, people will appear to be supporting the aims, and by not taking part their opposition will not be registered in the statistics, allowing the owners to claim support for their strategy.
“The consultation fails the basic test of fairness and is clearly designed to give LLAL the result they want. We regard it as cynical manipulation.”

Nigel Green, of St Albans Quieter Skies, said: ““LLAL has not got the guts to ask the honest question, which is ‘half way through an expansion which has not yet delivered increased altitude or any overall noise mitigation, do you want us to double the capacity of this airport yet again?’

“The resounding answer at present from people affected by the massive and ever-increasing noise burden from Luton

A plane takes off at Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOOA plane takes off at Luton Airport. Picture: DANNY LOO

Airport, is NO!”

Luton Airport will be celebrating its 80th anniversary on Wednesday, July 18, and passenger statistics show that June was the 17th consecutive month that more than one million passengers have used the airport.

Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of LLAL, said: “We are absolutely committed to delivering expansion of our airport in the right way by balancing the very significant economic and employment benefits that will flow to Luton and the surrounding area with minimising and mitigating the full range of environmental impacts that airport operations can bring.

“Besides significant economic and employment growth for Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, expansion promises a host of new destinations and increased choice for residents in St Albans – who we already know use the airport on average 2.9 times each a year.

“As part of developing a better offer for our existing customers in Hertfordshire and beyond, we are already working on a number of objectives to mitigate impacts including maintaining the current limit on flights between 11.30pm and 6am, incentivising airlines to adopt quieter aircraft, and working with National Air Traffic Services to ensure future flight paths are designed to minimise noise disturbance.

“We are also proposing to form a Noise Envelope Design Group including community and stakeholder representatives to agree approaches to managing noise.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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