Fears in North Herts over Luton Airport growth
A PROPOSAL to double the number of people using Luton Airport has been criticised by North Herts residents, neighbouring councils and campaign groups, who claim it would cause environmental and noise problems.
London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) and Luton Borough Council (LBC) announced on Monday that it would seek to increase the capacity of the airport to 18m passengers per annum, up from the 9.6m million expected to use it this year.
It said that a public consultation would be launched on Monday, February 6, when more detailed plans will be presented. A planning application could be submitted as early as April.
But North Herts District Council councillor David Barnard, who also campaigned against LBC’s proposed Century Park expansion, criticised LBC and LLAL for failing to inform neighbouring councils and North Herts residents before anyone else, claiming officers first found out about the plans when they appeared on the television.
“I’ve consulted with my parish councils and have received no indication that any of them have been informed at all about any proposals. That’s not very neighbourly,” he told The Comet.
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“We haven’t seen any plans. I think it’s a smack in the face. I don’t believe they are giving residents of North Herts the respect and consideration that they so richly deserve.”
Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise, added: “We fully recognise the economic benefits that the airport brings to Luton and the surrounding areas. It is essential for our communities who live in the flightpath to the east of Luton that the impacts of the development, in terms of environment, noise and transport, are properly understood and considered. We have not seen any details of their proposals yet so we can pass no comment at this stage.
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“We note that the consultation runs for four weeks and are very concerned that within just a month of the consultation ending a planning application will be submitted to Luton Borough Council. We will be making strong representations that there should be full consultation by LLAL with the communities to the east of Luton.”
The proposals, which LBC claims will create up to 6,000 new jobs, has also been met with criticism from Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN).
It could also be that it will seek to increase capacity to 30m passengers per annum at a later date.
A spokesman said: “The imposed four week pre-planning application consultation period is an insult to those living in those parts of Luton and the surrounding areas, who would be most affected by the inevitably accelerated levels of noise, pollution and traffic congestion that this scale of expansion would generate.
“The jobs myth is again wheeled out in the hugely inflated figure of 6,000. The widely-evidenced ratio of airport job-creation is certainly not more than 60 jobs created by each extra one million passengers. Our sums make that just over 400.
“The consultation period must be extended to give all affected an opportunity to access information and have input.”
Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said that the council had agreed in a meeting to ask representatives from LBC to give a presentation in the town, so residents could be informed on how they may be affected.
She added that the jobs would be a welcome boost to the local economy.
Although the detailed plans have not yet been revealed to the public, LBC have labelled them “ambitious”.
It says that it would continue to use the current single runway, considering including aircraft taxiways, roads, airport car parking and the passenger terminal, for modification.
LBC councillor Robin Harris, who is also chairman of LLAL, said: “The benefits that will flow from the airport’s development will be realised in the local, regional and national economies.
“We are committed to ensure the airport will continue to be a good neighbour and any growth in passenger numbers is managed in a responsible manner. Impacts on the environment, noise and road traffic flows will be fully evaluated as part of the process to ensure the airport’s development continues to be as sustainable as it has always been.”
The consultation will be launched via the website www.futureLuToN.co.uk