Plans uncovered for new 30m passenger Luton Airport expansion

SECRET plans to increase capacity at Luton Airport to almost treble what it is now and double what has been proposed have been discovered.

The owner of Luton Airport, London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), has been in discussions with the planning inspectorate to expand the capacity of the airport to 30m people per annum.

It follows proposals revealed this year to increase the airport capacity to 18m people per annum, and a six week public consultation.

“I am stunned by this news,” said Cllr Robert Gordon, leader of Herts County Council.

“Local authorities and communities alike are worried at the speed with which even the current proposals to expand capacity up to 18 million people per annum are being progressed, but have engaged in the consultations and await any planning application in good faith.

“I am shocked to discover that even before the recent public consultations had taken place the owner of the airport has already been in discussion with the planning inspectorate.

“I can only imagine the distress this news is going to cause to local communities and action groups.”

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Cllr Tom Brindley, North Herts District Council portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise, added: “We are greatly concerned by this news. We were prepared to listen to the case put forward to expand the capacity of the airport to 18 million passengers per annum, but have concerns about the lack of infrastructure to support this and the impact on residents of North Herts.

“We are extremely disappointed that in our meetings with the airport owner and Luton Borough Council that they failed to mention this potential planning application of nearly double the size of the current proposed expansion. An expansion of this magnitude would be completely unacceptable to NHDC.”

A proposal for an expansion of this scale would have to be made known to the inspectorate, as it would be deemed nationally significant.

The inspectorate website suggests that an application could be made in 2013.

Hertfordshire Against Luton Airport Expansion (HALE) said in a statement: “A serious proposition to grow Luton Airport to 30m passengers a year would massively disrupt the M1 and rail transport infrastructure, as well as blighting local communities with increased noise, pollution and night flights. It would seem very unlikely that the necessary development could be contained on the existing site, and the project would trigger being called-in by government.

“It would then become very clear exactly what this govenment’s priorities are in planning and development terms: rational growth based on sound judgement, or support for a ludicrous airport expansion proposal in the middle an already crowded airspace and an already congested urban area, with insufficient transport infrastructure to meet even its current needs.”