Luton Airport announces massive expansion
- Credit: Archant
Aircraft noise campaign groups are describing a colossal planned expansion to Luton Airport as “a huge threat to rural communities”.
Luton Borough Council has announced that the airport aims to expand to accommodate 36 to 38 million passengers and 240,000 flights, under the London Luton Airport Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-2050.
Campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) has argued that noise from flights going in and out of Luton has badly affected residents in both Herts and Beds, with a ten-fold increase in noise in some areas.
Noise campaigners also argue that transport on roads and by train near the airport is near capacity. Luton Airport was given permission in 2013 to expand to 18 million passengers over 15 years, and it has already reached 15 million five years earlier than expected.
LADACAN chairman Andrew Lambourne said: “Luton Borough Council will not do anything to constrain the operations, therefore this airport is effectively unregulated.
“Further expansion at Luton is entirely out of keeping with its location in a rural area – and the noise issues from the last four years have not been resolved. We call for the creation of an independent noise regulator with the power to constrain growth until the aviation industry delivers noise reduction.”
There has been an increase in noise complaints since the introduction of RNAV routing in 2015, which narrowed flight paths and concentrated the noise over a smaller area.
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Sharon Hollingsworth, of campaign group STAQS (St Albans Quieter Skies) said: “Local residents have had enough of Luton Airport’s expansion. The increase in flights and the introduction of RNAV have resulted in a significant increase in levels of noise.
“There is also the real problem about how passengers will travel to the airport and the increase in cars on the roads as a result.”
MPs for both St Albans and Harpenden have also expressed their concerns about what the airport’s expansion might mean for their constituency. St Albans MP Anne Main said: “Doubling passenger numbers throws up some major challenges, and serious concerns.
“It is very worrying that we would see a huge increase in flights when current levels of disruption remain unacceptable. We would absolutely need to see proper data-led, scientific solutions that would not only improve on the current noise levels, but would ensure the best outcomes for all those potentially affected.
“I will certainly be taking forward my concerns, and those in St Albans, in the strongest possible way.”
Harpenden MP Bim Afolami called the expansion “extremely worrying”.
“An increase of this size is far too big and not sustainable, and would represent increased disruption for Hertfordshire residents,” He said. “I will be taking serious concerns forward to Luton Airport, and I hope that they will work with me and other Hertfordshire MPs to find a more sustainable solution.”
Luton Airport CEO Nick Barton said: “As the owner of the airport, it’s only right that Luton Borough Council is taking a long-term view of what could be achieved by 2050.
“For us, the operator of the airport, we are focused on delivering our current transformation which will see us grow to 18m passengers a year.
“We are working closely with stakeholders and the community to strike a good balance between minimising the impact of the airport and maximising the social and economic benefits of our success.”
The airport’s vision is available to view online at www.llal.org.uk