St Albans councillors “stunned” at airport expansion plan

THE discovery of secret plans to triple the number of passengers using Luton Airport to 30 million a year has stunned county councillors in St Albans.

Local authorities neighbouring Luton have just discovered that while both the airport’s operator and owner have been publicly pursuing separate plans to double capacity, behind the scenes there are hopes for even greater expansion.

Leader of Herts county council (HCC), Cllr Robert Gordon, admitted: “I am stunned by this news.”

Over recent months airport owner Luton borough council (LBC) has been consulting on plans to fly 18 million people a year, while operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) wants to expand capacity to 16 million.

Councils, however, have learned that LBC has been in discussions with the Planning Inspectorate to expand the airport to 30 million passengers a year, with an application expected to be submitted by late 2013.

Cllr Gordon said: “I am shocked to discover that even before the recent public consultations had taken place the owner of the airport has already been in discussions with the Planning Inspectorate.

“Make no mistake this is a huge expansion proposal and represents a throughput not significantly different from that currently experienced at London Gatwick.

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“I can only imagine the distress this news is going to cause local communities and action groups.”

HCC portfolio holder for planning, Cllr Teresa Heritage, added: “I am extremely concerned. The prospect of 30 million passengers a year is really quite frightening.

“The impact on our roads, quality of life and additional flights going over all part of the district is not an attractive prospect.”