By Laura Burge
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
A COUNCIL has said that its proposals to increase the number of passengers using Luton Airport are in very early stages, following concerns over the impact it could have on North Herts.
As previously reported by The Comet, Luton Borough Council (LBC) is looking into the possibility of attracting millions more passengers to the airport annually, which has caused concerns among North Herts councillors and members of a residents’ organisation.
But the borough council has said that it’s still early days and cannot yet say how it may affect people in neighbouring North Herts and surrounding areas.
A spokesman said: “Future growth of the airport will be influenced by the new sustainable framework for the future direction of the Aviation Policy.
“This is the first step of a potentially long process to replace the current 2003 White Paper on Aviation Policy. It is therefore not possible at this time to accurately set the potential for growth and judge the subsequent impact on Luton and the surrounding area.”
LBC must also win its challenge against Department of Transport estimates, which cap the airport at 15m passengers a year, half of the 30m figure that has been spoken about.
The spokesman added: “We do not want the future growth of the airport to be constrained by the current DoT estimates and believe that if the market is there, the airport has the potential to deal with more passengers.
“Indeed, this forecast is at odds with the 2003 Aviation white Paper and the subsequent airport Master Plan, which was subject to wide consultation in 2005. Both stated a target of 30m passengers per year for Luton Airport.
“LLAL is challenging the DoT estimated and has commissioned further work to assess the potential. Our aspiration is to have the flexibility to accommodate sustainable growth which will in turn stimulate and support economic growth for Luton and the surrounding area. The work we are doing now will help us establish what that potential could be and plan accordingly.”
Members of protest group LADACAN - Luton and District Association for Control Against Aircraft Noise - said that they were concerned on the impact it would have on noise levels and the environment, but added that there was no suggestion this wouldn’t be considered.
Member Peter Hunt said: “At the moment, LADACAN would be interested to see how such a small airport can become an airport the size of Gatwick. We will wait and see what they (LBC) come up with.
“The places like Stevenage and Hitchin, they all get hit by noise. It’s all imposed on them.”