Stevenage and Royston councillors speak out against Luton Airport expansion
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage and Royston councillors have backed the county council’s call for Luton Airport’s expansion to be deferred.
London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) is currently consulting on proposals to increase the limit on the number of passengers using the airport from 18 million a year to 32 million.
On Tuesday, November 26, a meeting of Herts County Council agreed to object to the expansion plans, which they said would result in "unnacceptable" harm to the environment. They agreed that the council would call for the plans to be deferred, until the government had considered the views of the Committee on Climate Change.
At the meeting, Stevenage county councillor Joshua Bennett Lovell said that, rather than expanding airports, there was a need to reduce travel. He said: "If we think we can tackle climate change with the urgency needed by just going to more fuel-efficient aircraft then we need to look again at the data.
"The truth is we shouldn't be looking at expanding any airports or giving up any ground on this. We must look further in the other direction - looking at more sustainable public transport and actually reducing the need to travel by air altogether."
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Cllr Steve Jarvis, of Royston West ward, agreed and said: "We have to recognise that we cannot just continue to allow travel by air to expand at the rate that it has been."
Fellow county councillor Sharon Taylor, who is also the leader of Stevenage Borough Council, pointed to technology - such as video calls and conferencing - that could be used to reduce the need for business travel. She said everyone flying to parts of Europe should consider other modes of transport where possible, and that the airport's expansion plans would impact on Stevenage residents, who are already affected by aircraft noise.
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"Stevenage suffers very seriously from over-flying, particularly in the summer when the hours of flying are longer," she said. "The increase in passenger numbers to Luton would make that significantly worse."
LLAL has said they are committed to minimising and mitigating environmental impacts, including noise, climate change and an increase in traffic. They also said the expansion will create 16,000 new jobs and an annual £2bn increase in UK economic activity.