Toilets and lights anger at St Albans council and Luton Airport meeting

St Albans Green party leader, Cllr Simon Grover.

St Albans Green party leader, Cllr Simon Grover. - Credit: Archant

Luton Airport bosses have been accused of “fobbing off” questions over the environmental impact of the facility’s mammoth expansion with talk of waterless urinals and LED lighting.

They were challenged at a St Albans council scrutiny committee meeting looking into an increase in planes over parts of the district, along with road traffic for the airfield, as it undergoes a £110 million extension to fly millions more passengers.

They told councillors: “We are trying to strike a balance between managing the noise impacts and the airport being a successful economic driver for the region.”

Green Party leader Cllr Simon Grover quizzed Luton’s operations director Neil Thompson about the percentage of passengers arriving by road as opposed to by public transport, how additional airport traffic would be tackled, and how the impact on the environment would be reduced.

Neil said that while he did not have statistics on passengers arriving by road, “the entire terminal has LED lighting which is saving money ... we consciously look at being environmental”.

When Cllr Grover responded that he was not talking about LED lights, Neil replied that Luton was looking at “simple things like waterless urinals to save water”.

Cllr Grover said: “I’m not talking about waterless urinals. I’m talking about the big environmental impact. If you could give me a straight answer?”

Neil said that Luton was trying to reduce the number of residents overflown by planes, with aircraft becoming more efficient as older planes were being gradually replaced with modern versions.

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Wheathampstead councillor Sandra Wood spoke out about the impact on Lower Luton Road traffic: “It is chaotic now, and there is real concern that with the increase in the airport, that it is going to be even worse.”

She asked whether the airport was contributing funding towards mitigation measures to reduce congestion.

Neil said that Section 106 money - paid by developers to a local authority to reduce the impact of development - has “gone to Luton borough council to improve the highway network within Luton”, but no funding has been earmarked for Herts.

The borough council owns the airport and approved its plans to expand to carry 18 million passengers yearly.

After the meeting Cllr Grover said he had not asked for the ‘minutiae’ of environmental measures such as introducing LED lighting and waterless urinals.

He said: “People in the district are concerned about the airport for lots of different reasons; for some it is noise, for some it is the increased traffic, and for others it is the environmental impact.

“I asked three times – I was quite clear – about their plans, and I was fobbed off.”