Eaton Bray LLAL roadshow, 11 July 2018
Insist on knowing who the presenters represent – some of the hosts were not wearing badges. They had consultants from Aecom (noise and environment), Arup (earthworks and planning), York Aviation (airspace and aviation) as well as people from LLAL.
They have discounted any idea of a new, extended or realigned runway and instead at this stage their main aim is to “sift” four options for locating a new terminal, with their favourite being to place it north of the runway and to destroy Wignores Park and re-create it further to the east. They also have the option of transporting massive amounts of earth from off the site, or “remodelling” the local topography by moving it from onsite. All this is set out in diagrams and booklets.
As far as noise impact of growing from 140,000 flights (18m pax) to 240,000 flights (36m pax) per year, their noise consultants at Aecom have not yet produced projections at this stage, so we have nothing to go on. But the feel from the current airspace change consultation is that it will be much more of the same, since there is no real prospect of gaining significantly higher altitudes until the airspace is redesigned (5yrs minimum) – and in any case for communities closest to the airfield, altitude is always going to be low. Also, double glazing even if fitted does not help when outdoors, and people want their windows open at night when it’s hot.
The one current planning constraint they said they would take forward is the restriction on number of night (23:00-06:00) flights to 9650 as per current planning consent, which was due to hold until 2028. There is therefore the chance that the Sec of State may rub out the other conditions, so challenge the LLAL people to commit to preserving ALL the existing conditions, and to focus on delivering noise mitigations before any further expansion, just to prove they can do it.
The aviation consultant knows his stuff and expects the new generation of engines to come into operation more widely over the next 5 years – but bear in mind that although the A320neo is 3-4dB quieter on departure, as far as we can see it’s only about 1dB (imperceptibly) quieter over the noise monitors on arrival, so those on the arrivals track will not benefit. So do ask what other mitigations the aviation industry will offer us?
Their position re what would happen to the operating concession – or indeed who will pay for a lot of the work on the terminal – did not seem to be clear when we asked. The consultants felt it was a bit odd that a new major shareholder has picked up a significant holding in LLAOL at this point in time – they presumably see an investment opportunity.
Challenge (politely but very firmly) the LLAL reps on the consultation form, pointing out that the scored questions were loaded towards assent, and asking whether and how they would report the free text comments. They say they will reflect the free text comments, but again the more people who challenge them on that the better.
It is unclear when and how the 18m passenger limit would be removed but the likelihood is that this would drop out from the Sec of State decision, and the longer we can hold them to that limit the better.
It is vital for all of us to write to our MPs expressing significant concern at the potentially blighting impact of noise and pollution and surface transport congestion from further expansion at Luton on the scale proposed, and insist that they engage actively with the Sec of State on our behalf. Another Westminster debate should be organised, and questions should be tabled re how the government squares unconstrained aviation growth with climate change commitments and a policy of minimising the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise. It simply does not add up, particularly in the context of an airport which is so badly located close to rural towns and villages.
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