Luton Airport plans further growth to 25 million passengers within 10 years

An easyjet plane coming in to land at Luton

An easyjet plane coming in to land at Luton - Credit: Archant

Luton Airport is planning to expand to 25 million passengers, in a move campaign groups are arguing could increase noise pollution above Hertfordshire.

London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), a subsidiary of Luton borough council, is planning an expansion of passenger numbers despite the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) stating this month that the skies over south east England are overcrowded and close to saturation.

Neil McArthur of Harpenden Sky submitted a Freedom of Information Request which revealed that the LLAL planning strategy is for steady growth to 25 million passengers within 10 years. This represents nearly a 40 per cent increase over the current planning limit of 18 million passengers, which was agreed by Luton borough council.

Residents who live under flight paths in St Albans, Harpenden and elsewhere in Hertfordshire have made multiple complaints to the airport about aeroplane noise, due to a new routing system which has narrowed the flight paths and concentrated the noise over a smaller area. Over the past year, noise complaints have increased from 191 in the first quarter of 2016, to 1,849 in the first quarter of 2017.

Neil said: “The pace of change at Luton Airport is outstripping the airport’s capability to deal with a lot of other issues including alleviation of noise from air traffic.

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“Luton Airport is simply not being properly managed. They are rushing through too much too quickly and as a result they make mistakes.”

Neil also argued that passenger costs have escalated, and the airport’s ‘drop-off’ roadway is inadequate for passenger volume.

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Andrew Lambourne, from campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) said: “LLAL’s document clearly prioritises making Luton the go-to airport for airlines, so that market demands can be met. There’s no mention at all of making the airport a better neighbour to local communities.

“LLAL’s commercial interest is best served by avoiding any kind of restrictions on noise, types of aircraft or hours of operation. People who live in the area around Luton Airport take a different view when they are trying to get to sleep at night, enjoy their gardens, have a conversation or get some rest from the noise. That’s why we’re insisting that the increased profits should be balanced by stricter noise controls aimed at driving noise down, not just letting it increase.”

Andrew urged those affected by noise pollution to contact either the airport or their local MP with their concerns, and to join local campaign groups.

He said: “The more different people who take the time to complain, the more chance we have of pushing back against this incessant dash for cash regardless of the noise pollution it causes.”

A Luton Airport spokesman said: “As the airport operator we are focused on delivering our plans to transform LLA and increase capacity to 18m passengers a year.

“We appreciate the patience of our passengers during the redevelopment work, many of whom are already seeing the benefits. We’ve made significant progress in easing congestion on our roads and are working hard to improve public transport links to the airport.

“The overall cost of a trip is often less when compared to other major London airports.”

A spokesman for Luton borough council said: “In its response to a recent Government consultation on the National Aviation Planning Strategy, London Luton Airport Ltd demonstrated the theoretical potential of growth at London Luton Airport.

“It is the responsibility of every airport in the country to look at demand projections and how facilities and resources may potentially be optimised in line with planning policy to best serve the aviation and economic interests of the UK.”

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