Luton Airport expansion ‘a recipe for environmental disaster’
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Campaigners and councillors have criticised plans to expand Luton Airport – arguing that not enough has been done to mitigate the impact on people living below flight paths.
Last month London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) started its latest consultation into its expansion proposals - which will involve building a second terminal, new airport infrastructure, and increasing passenger numbers from a projected 18 million per annum by 2020 to 32 million by 2039.
Luton Borough Council leader Hazel Simmons wrote to Cllr Chris White, the leader of St Albans district council, detailing the positive economic impact the expansion would have on St Albans.
She wrote: "In earlier communications we have outlined LLAL's absolute commitment to minimising and mitigating environmental impacts within surrounding communities, and measures to tackle these are outlined in our consultation documentation."
However St Albans district councillor Annie Brewster questioned how these measures will be enforced. She suggested the council should request another letter from Cllr Simmons explaining how LLAL can guarantee quieter planes, increased use of public transport to get to the airport and to minimise harmful emissions.
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Andrew Lambourne from LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) said: "It's questionable enough that Luton Borough Council has sent such an unbalanced letter during a consultation period. It also beggars belief that LLAL knows anything about mitigating environmental impacts.
"It is absolutely outrageous to try to sugar-coat what is effectively a recipe for environmental disaster, without giving any concrete detail of how the climate change, noise and pollution impacts and surface transport overload would be mitigated.
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"The reason for this oversight seems obvious: because they do not know.
"There is only one reason Luton Borough Council wants more airport expansion - to make more money, at the expense of the environment and quality of life for us all."
Meanwhile, members of campaign group Harpenden Sky argued that the carbon emission growth from increasing the number of flights is in opposition to Luton Borough Council's aim to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Anne Main, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for St Albans, has written to Luton Airport's parent company highlighting the "breach of trust" between the airport and neighbouring communities.
She wrote: "Primarily, I object to this plan based on the increased noise impact it will have on those in St Albans who live under the flight paths.
"I have seen almost no effort by the airport to take seriously the concerns of residents whose lives have been enormously impacted by the persistent and unrelenting noise from overflying, particularly under the RNAV flight path."
The RNAV navigation system was introduced in 2015, and is believed by campaign groups to have exacerbated the problem by concentrating the noise over a smaller area.
Mrs Main added: "I am also seriously concerned about the impact this expansion plan will have on our already congested roads and rail links, and I have not been satisfied with the assurances given so far."
LLAL programme delivery director Ciaran Scanlon said: "In St Albans, expansion to 32 million passengers per year is expected to generate 300 new jobs and a £10m economic uplift.
"We are also proposing a new fund that would provide additional support up to £7.5m a year for communities outside Luton for impact reduction schemes.
"In order to minimise the possibility of increased traffic congestion, our target is to achieve 45 per cent public transport access by passengers and 54 per cent by airport staff by 2029. There would also be improvements to the highway infrastructure in and around the airport.
"We are committed to minimising and mitigating environmental impacts, and further measures to tackle these are outlined in our statutory consultation at futureluton.llal.org.uk.
"We would urge all stakeholders with an interest in the airport to attend one of our 34 consultation events, including at St Albans Jubilee Centre from 2-8pm on Friday, November 29, and provide their feedback by December 16."