Stevenage MP calls for inquiry into Luton Airport expansion

London Luton Airport Terminal

London Luton Airport Terminal - Credit: Archant

An MP has written to a government minister asking him to call in the application to expand Luton Airport after owners Luton Borough Council granted planning permission.

Stephen McPartland

Stephen McPartland - Credit: Archant

The application – made by council-owned London Luton Airport Operations Limited – was approved by the authority’s planning committee last month and under the plans would see passenger capacity increase from 12 million to 18 million a year.

Now Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has written to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, raising concerns of residents in the town who would be affected by the expansion.

In the letter Mr McPartland said he was “extremely concerned that there is a direct conflict of interest, as Luton Borough Council owns the airport and have now granted permission for it to expand.”

The Conservative MP said he had been approached by a number of parties expressing their concern about the manner in which the planning meeting was held and have questioned the fairness of the procedure.

Writing to Mr Pickles, who has already issued an Article 25 notice so planning permission cannot be acted upon without his permission, Mr McPartland said: “I agree and continue to maintain that it does seem questionable for the owner of the airport, which will benefit to the tune of an additional £25 million a year, to grant itself planning permission to significantly expand their property.

“I would now urge to formally call in the application and ensure a full, transparent public inquiry.”

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As well as increasing capacity, the expansion would include building a new dual carriageway, multi-storey car park and taxiway, plus improvements to the public transport hub next to the terminal.

Plans for the airport, which is the fifth biggest in the UK, also includes extending the current car parks and making improvements to the terminal building and aircraft parking area, with new and improved stands.

A year ago the Comet launched a campaign – backed by three Comet country MPs, Hertfordshire County Council and councillors from North Herts District Council and Stevenage Borough Council – asking the decision to be referred to the secretary of state so a decision can be made by an independent body. The Comet received 3,960 signatures in support.