Luton Airport expansion plans scrutinised due to 'overwhelming concerns' for district's residents

A Ryanair plane at Luton airport

A Ryanair plane at Luton airport - Credit: Archant

Councillors have come together to suggest ways to reduce the effects of harmful emissions associated with London Luton Airport on St Albans residents, and to halt its further expansion.

The measures, which have been put forward by the council's community, environment and sport scrutiny committee, aim to highlight the negative impact carbon emissions from the airport have on the environment and health of people living and working nearby, as well as the impact of daily noise pollution.

READ MORE: Luton Airport's latest plans branded 'fundamentally unsustainable' by campaign groups

The council has been opposing plans for future expansion with campaigners, saying it could generate more than 40 extra flights a day.

At its meeting, the committee recommended that the chair and portfolio holder for climate, environment and transport should together encourage the government to prioritise reducing emissions, press the airport to devise plans to improve low-carbon options and ask the Department of Transport to recognise the need for the aviation industry to contribute to the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Cllr Annie Brewster, the committee’s chair, said: “We were unanimous in putting forward recommendations that deal with some of the overwhelming concerns that our residents have about the impact the airport has on their lives. 

“The environmental impact on our district’s health is already unacceptable with zero mitigation measures offered in the air, on our railway or on our roads since the last approved doubling of passenger numbers in 2013.

RELATED STORY: Luton Airport flight path public consultation in final weeks

“Now, we are faced with two further expansion plans. An application has just been submitted for a further million passengers per year taking them to 19 million. Another, doubling current numbers to 32 million passengers a year, is expected later this year.

Annie Brewster holding LADCAN sign against Luton Airport expansion

Cllr Annie Brewster: “Our local and country roads leading to the airport can be at standstill and this will only intensify if the airport expands any further.” - Credit: Annie Brewster

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“We were expecting to see what mitigation plans are proposed to accompany these huge increases. However, there does not seem to be any solution to passengers driving to and from the airport from the east and the west through the district’s roads and we learned that 97 per cent of the airport’s associated carbon emissions are out of their direct control.

"They have to wait until airlines fly quieter and more fuel-efficient planes but neither of these outcomes appear to be on the horizon.

READ MORE: Proposed flight path changes at Luton Airport could cause disruption to our area, say campaigners

“Therefore, we feel that central government needs to make the reduction of emissions a priority for the aviation sector over increasing passenger numbers.

"Any further expansion plans should be shelved until the government has revised its aviation policy, examining post-Brexit effects and flying confidence trends as we recover from the pandemic. 

“We also want to see the airport develop an action plan to reduce current noise and emissions, taking into account emissions not just from aircraft but from the considerable traffic that the airport generates in our district.

“Our local and country roads leading to the airport can be at standstill and this will only intensify if the airport expands any further.”

The recommendations from the meeting on Thursday, January 14 will go to the portfolio holder for consideration.