Local Conservatives have been leading the charge against new Luton Airport expansion plans, citing concerns over air and noise pollution and increased strain on our local transport infrastructure.
On the 14th January, Councillors on the Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee of St Albans City and District Council, chaired by Wheathampstead Conservative Councillor Annie Brewster, put forward actions to reduce emissions at Luton and opposed further expansion.
The Committee recommended that Cllr Brewster and the Portfolio Holder should:
- Encourage the Government to prioritise reducing emissions rather than increasing passenger or flight numbers.
- Press the airport to devise plans to improve low-carbon options for transport on the ground to reduce emissions from traffic, especially on local and country roads.
- Approach the airport and owners, Luton Borough Council, and demand “a comprehensive and realistic action plan” for reducing emissions.
- Write to the Department of Transport asking it to recognise the need for the aviation industry to contribute to the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.
- Enquire with Network Rail about the impact the national rail freight depot at Radlett could have on the capacity of projected Thameslink’s passenger numbers targeted by the airport’s expansion goals.
Cllr Brewster said: “We were unanimous in putting forward recommendations that deal with some of the overwhelming concerns that our residents have about the impact the airport has on their lives.
The environmental impact on our District’s health is already unacceptable with zero mitigation measures offered in the air, on our railway or on our roads since the last approved doubling of passenger numbers in 2013.
Now, we are faced with two further expansion plans. An application has just been submitted for a further million passengers per year taking them to 19m. Another, doubling current numbers to 32m passengers a year, is expected later this year.
We were expecting to see what mitigation plans are proposed to accompany these huge increases. However, there does not seem to be any solution to passengers driving to and from the airport from the east and the west through the District’s roads and we learned that 97% of the airport’s associated carbon emissions are out of their direct control. They have to wait until airlines fly quieter and more fuel-efficient planes but neither of these outcomes appear to be on the horizon.
Therefore, we feel that central Government needs to make the reduction of emissions a priority for the aviation sector over increasing passenger numbers. Any further expansion plans should be shelved until Government has revised its aviation policy, examining post-Brexit effects and flying confidence trends as we recover from the pandemic.
We also want to see the airport develop an action plan to reduce current noise and emissions, taking into account emissions not just from aircraft but from the considerable traffic that the airport generates in our District.
Our local and country roads leading to the airport can be at standstill and this will only intensify if the airport expands any further.”
Local MP Bim Afolami has consistently opposed the expansion of the airport. He said, "London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) have submitted yet another application to increase their annual passenger numbers from 18 million to 19 million, as well as applying for an amendment to the day and night noise limitations to accommodate this.
Luton Airport and its owners have repeatedly shown a complete disregard for local air quality, aircraft noise, and traffic levels for villages in this constituency, from Offley and Breachwood Green in the North down to Harpenden, Wheathampstead, and Sandridge in the South. Their only concern appears to be more money for Luton Council.
I implore all local residents within Hitchin & Harpenden to submit your opposition to the planning application."
Objections can be submitted here: https://planning.luton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=QMRHGXKGFQH00&fbclid=IwAR2U9_YmfAyCBRBs4drxgJwqVeI4xQlJldsj6jlxBB1rrWK4hf7LAqxWClc