Councillors and campaigners react to Luton Airport expansion
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners and councillors have expressed serious concerns over Luton Airport’s plan to expand to 32 million passengers per year.
Last week Luton Borough Council's airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) started its latest consultation into its expansion proposals.
The plans involve building a second terminal and new airport infrastructure, as well as expanding the number of passengers. The airport is currently ahead of schedule in its expansion to 18 million passengers per annum (mppa) by 2020, and aims to expand to 32 mppa by 2039.
Both Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans MP Anne Main have raised concerns over the expansion's effect on traffic, the environment and people living below flight paths.
Derrick Ashley, the county council's cabinet member for growth, infrastructure, planning and the economy, said: "We continue to have serious concerns about the impact of aircraft noise on nearby towns and villages.
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"We're also very concerned about how an extra 14 million passengers a year will actually get to the airport without this causing serious problems on Hertfordshire's roads.
"We'll be taking a very close look at the airport's sustainable transport plans to make sure that they encourage people travelling to and from the airport to use more sustainable options, such as bus and rail.
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"We also need to make sure that there are robust proposals to deal with potential impacts on the road network."
MP Mrs Main, joined by representatives from campaign group St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS), met with aviation minister Paul Maynard to discuss noise pollution from aircraft.
She said: "Nothing ever changes regardless of how many complaints residents make so a lot of them have given up. Luton Airport then claims that noise complaints are down due to their good work. It's totally unacceptable.
"Rules are imposed on the airport to stay within noise limits. When they don't operate within the rules, they change the rules to suit them."
Mrs Main stated her intention to oppose the expansion, saying it "serves no benefit" to her constituents. Cllr Ashley acknowledged the economic benefits that would come from growth of the airport, but said the revenue needs to be spread to neighbouring areas which will be negatively affected by the expansion, rather than all going to Luton.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Daisy Cooper said: "Airport expansion must be stopped to protect St Albans residents locally and the climate globally.
"St Albans residents are already facing broken peace and sleepless nights from increased flights concentrated overhead and, more broadly, it is well known that emissions from aeroplanes are some of the worst for causing the climate crisis.
"We have 10 years to save our planet, so we must stop expansion of airports like Luton and invest instead in new technologies to drive a green economy."
Anti-noise campaign groups have urged people to "think very carefully" when responding to the consultation.
Andrew Lambourne, of LADACAN (Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), said: "There are already more airport expansion proposals than can be accommodated.
"Luton Airport's owners should make sure it delivers on promises of noise reduction, a cleaner greener fleet, and airspace change which benefits people on the ground.
"We strongly advise everyone who feels that the airport is big enough and causes enough to environmental damage already, to preface the response to every question with a clear statement that they do not support further expansion."
Meanwhile, campaign group Harpenden Sky has called for the consultation to be halted until the airport's carbon dioxide emissions are reported alongside other greenhouse gases.
Chairman Neil MacArthur said: "The LLAL consultation must now be stopped until CO2 is agreed as a greenhouse gas to be monitored as part of air quality, and the full impact reported based upon the current situation, and in future, as a consequence of the proposed expansion to 32 million passengers."
A series of 34 consultation events will take place across the region between Friday, October 25, and Saturday, December 7.