Independent barrister to review Luton Airport expansion
- Credit: Archant
An independent barrister has been appointed to review a planning application to expand Luton Airport.
The airport had asked Luton Borough Council, which owns the facility through London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, for approval to expand and allow an extra 160 flights a day.
The airport wants to increase passenger capacity from 12 million to 18 million a year.
The council announced last week it had appointed aviation planning specialist John Steele QC to conduct a full independent review of the expansion application.
MP for Hitchin and Harpenden Peter Lilley has campaigned for an independent review and for the Government to take the decision out of the council’s hands.
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He said: “Luton council’s decision to appoint an independent QC to carry out a full review of the planning application for Luton Airport is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough.
“While Luton’s recognition of the importance of their being impartial in the way we deal with the application is a welcome development, the only way to ensure the process is, and is seen to be, independent is to hand it over to an independent body.
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“It shows that Luton council recognise the obvious problems presented by their conflict of interests.
“I have always maintained that Luton council should not be making this decision as the council itself is the prime beneficiary from expansion of the airport, and I hope the legal review will come to the same conclusion.
“However, it does look more like window-dressing than a genuine attempt to ensure impartiality. It is essential that everybody has a proper opportunity to express their views and that the concerns of local residents are fully considered by a neutral body.”
Last month the Comet reported that a meeting to discuss the planning application was deferred after the council said it would allow for further consideration of consultees’ comments.