Luton Airport boss shows support for Harpenden-Luton Incinerator despite council leader expressing concerns about environmental impact

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:28 03 August 2018

The land around Lower Harpenden Rd, between Harpenden and Luton which has been identified as a possible site for an incinerator. Picture: DANNY LOO

The land around Lower Harpenden Rd, between Harpenden and Luton which has been identified as a possible site for an incinerator. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

The Harpenden-Luton Incinerator appears to have won the support of the chief operating officer for Luton Airport’s landowner, despite Luton Borough Council’s leader insisted the proposal had nothing to do with the airport.

Energy company Emsrayne are proposing to Central Bedfordshire Council to build the Lea Bank Energy Park at New Mill End, north of Harpenden and west of Kimpton, on Green Belt land close to the Luton Hoo estate.

In a letter addressed to Emsrayne, London Luton Airport Limited’s chief operating officer Robin Porter said the proposal “presents an excellent opportunity to provide a secure, long-term renewable, low carbon heat and power supply to London Luton Airport”.

He continues: “[It] will make a significant contribution towards national and local targets for carbon reduction and renewable energy generation and therefore should be given substantial weight in terms of any assessment of its impact on the Green Belt and designated heritage assets”.

His letter also includes details on a 5km pipeline from the incinerator to the airport to deliver hot water.

This, as well as an underground cable to transport electricity, would power future developments on the airport site, including a mass transit system.

The letter was sent in June, yet has only come to public attention a month later, after the leader of Luton Borough Council, Hazel Simmons, said Emsrayne’s application “is not connected to, or developed on behalf of, London Luton Airport”.

“This is a private developer who has submitted a proposal to Central Bedfordshire Council and reports Luton Council support this proposal are inaccurate”, Cllr Simmons said.

“The council’s executive is yet to meet to agree the council’s formal position on the proposals, however we can confirm a combined heat and power plant are at odds with the council’s own energy strategy and vision, which is based on solar and wind generation.

“I am also concerned by the potential impacts this plant would have on Luton and we will be responding formally when Central Bedfordshire Council carry out a consultation as part of any statutory planning process.

“While our airport company has confirmed if the scheme was to be approved there is potential for the airport to be among those who could benefit from this additional source of power, the board are also yet to meet to take a formal position.

“However, as the sole shareholder, we will expressing our concerns to them about the proposal, particularly the potential environmental impacts for Luton.

“I hope this clears up Luton Council’s current position on the matter, but clearly this is a matter for Central Bedfordshire Council.”

The campaign group United Kingdom Without Incineration Network launched a report last week, saying incinerators produce particulate matter, which can affect people’s respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Tim Armstrong-Taylor of the Stop the Harpenden-Luton Incinerator group said: “We want clarity on it, that is the most important thing and instead we are getting mixed signals. We want to know if this is part of the airport’s expansion plans and if the airport has an agreement to get heat and power.

“There are conflicting opinions on this: We believe Luton Airport are in favour of this development and will be seeking some agreement, but the leader of Luton Borough Council is saying that is not the case.”

Chair of London Luton Airport Limited Andy Malcolm said: “I would like to be clear this proposed development is not connected to, or on behalf of, London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL).

“A technical letter of support was sent by our officers, who were approached by the developers in relation to the potential for this proposal to power the airport and surrounding developments, making clear this was absolutely conditional on impacts on the environment and the community being kept to a minimum.

“The LLAL Board has since been able to meet to discuss the proposal in more detail and consider the views of both the general public and our shareholder, Luton council, who have concerns about its potential impact.

“Any decision of the company with regard to meeting the airport’s future energy needs will be mindful of our shareholder’s emerging Energy Policy. However, planning decision is clearly a matter for Central Bedfordshire Council, which would need carefully to consider the environmental impact of any such planning application.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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