Luton Airport owners want yet more growth

Aspirations for a further doubling of capacity at Luton Airport have been made public by Luton Borough Council and its subsidiary company LLAL which owns the airport. The owners set out a vision for 36 million passengers and 240,000 flights a year by 2050, with informal consultations starting as early as 2018.

Luton Airport is currently part-way through an expansion to 18 million passengers, during which key promises about noise mitigation have consistently been broken:

  • Rather than gearing expansion to keep pace with the introduction of quieter aircraft, it has been allowed to grow unchecked – ten years’ growth in just 4 years, flights up 66% on the route used by Wizz, with no noise mitigations at all
  • The fleet mix has moved from smaller quieter planes to larger heavier ones, and only two “new engine option” quieter aircraft currently operate from Luton
  • Flight tracks have been concentrated into “motorways in the sky” with no mitigating increase in altitude – in fact LADACAN has shown that altitude has reduced
  • Key planning controls which could have been adjusted to control noise levels by aircraft type have been replaced by  single top-slicing noise limit which is set so high that only one flight in 4000 is fined for being too noisy.

The owners claim the plans are “sustainable” because of a focus on increased rail access to the terminal. What they have omitted to factor in is the doubling of carbon emissions from flights, at a time when concerns about greenhouses gases – aviation being the fastest-growing contributor – and global warming, are major issues.

Herts County Council has already raised significant concerns about surface transport capacity on road and rail, notwithstanding the proposed DART rail air link.

The proposals have been made in response to a call from government for additional runway capacity. LADACAN is working with other campaign groups and local councils to provide more transparency over the lack of joined-up thinking. For the government to grab any spare capacity at a regional airport like Luton, surrounded by rural towns and villages, would in our view be a travesty.

At the level of expansion proposed, the plans would have to be “called in” by Secretary of State Sajid Javid, but he has thus far ignored calls to prevent any further expansion at Luton until the promised noise mitigations have been put in place and proven to be effective.

Please join LADACAN if you are concerned about this issue and want to help fight it.