Villagers unite against plans for Luton Airport expansion

VILLAGERS around St Albans have launched a campaign group to fight Luton Airport’s ambitious expansion plans to double passenger numbers, a scheme they have criticised as a “total farce”.

Angry residents living under the airport’s flight paths have formed a new group called Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE).

London Luton Airport Limited, wholly owned by Luton Borough Council (LBC), has announced plans to double capacity to 18 million passengers a year.

It claims the expansion would create up to 6,000 new jobs and generate millions of pounds of investment.

The airport is to submit a planning application to the council, which is the area’s planning authority, in April.

However a public exhibition on the scheme attended by about 150 villagers in Flamstead last week has failed to appease residents.

Nigel Emms, founder member of HALE, said: “Residents across Hertfordshire will experience more noise, more air pollution and more congestion on their roads and railways whilst Luton borough council pockets the cash.”

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He said it was “outrageous” that LBC could decide its own planning application.

The campaigners, via new website, have called upon the airport to resolve the long-running issue of noisy planes and in particular evening flights.

HALE held its first public meeting on the controversial scheme at Flamstead on Thursday, February 23.

Nigel said the existing road and rail infrastructure was insufficient to cope with twice as much airport traffic.

He added: “This would detrimentally affect the M1, A5, A1081, A505 and Lower Luton Road, plus the commuter rail link to and from London.”

Vikki Orvice, a journalist from Flamstead, described the airport’s exhibition as “flimsy” and a “total farce”.

She said there was no information on the environmental impact, number of night flights and consultants were unaware that residents of Flamstead and Redbourn suffered from plane noise.

The scheme has also been questioned by airport operator, London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL).

The consortium has asked whether airline prices will have to increase dramatically to cover the cost should numbers not reach the estimated 18 million passengers.

It asked what the environmental impact, in particular noise and air quality, would be if flights increased by a proposed 275 a day.

A spokesman added: “We firmly believe that further development must be based on the core considerations of safety, feasibility, sustainability and environmental sensitivity.

“We will therefore publish our own detailed proposal for the further expansion of [the] airport during the second half of the month.”