Planning controls

Luton Borough Council owns Luton Airport through a holding company called LLAL (London Luton Airport Ltd) which makes £34m per year from the operating concession. This money is used for infrastructure investment, some is dividended to the Council.

Laura Church, director of Place and Infrastructure at Luton Borough Council and so responsible for planning and environmental control, is also an officer of LLAL.

Airport planning controls are laid down by the local planning authority to control noise and other environmental impacts. In Luton’s case the local authority owns the airport. The available controls which affect noise and numbers of flights are:

a) an annual limit of 9,650 flights at night (between 23:30 and 06:00)
b) an annual “noise quota” of 3,500 at night, reducing to 2,800 by 2028
c) an annual limit of 7,000 flights in the early morning period (between 06:00 and 07:00)
d) noise violation limit of 82dB in daytime, reducing to 80dB in 2020
e) noise violation limit of 80dB at night, reducing to 79dB in 2020 and 77dB in 2028
f) a 57dB day noise contour limit of 19.4sq km, and a 48dB night contour of 37.2 sq km
g) measures to limit the ground-running of aircraft engines at night

Whilst this may look like an impressive list, bear in mind they were meant to control a huge environmental impact resulting from:

  • a doubling of passenger capacity in steady growth from 9m to 18m by 2028
  • an increase of 60% in numbers of flights by steady growth from 2013 to 2028

In return, communities were promised that quieter aircraft would be introduced. How has the rate of growth got so out of step with the mitigations? Why are the noisiest flights only fined £100 for exceeding noise limits? Ask Luton Borough Council.

Directly after planning permission was granted in 2013 for Luton Airport expansion, the executives of LLAL put in place an incentive scheme to encourage faster growth at the airport (you can see this documented in the LLAL accounts 2016 p16).

Growth at Luton Airport has significantly exceeded expectations, and rather than steady growth, we have seen a massive increase equivalent to 10 years expansion in 4 years. This has far outstripped any investment in quieter aircraft – in fact noisier ones are being added to carry the increased passenger numbers. The scales of justice are imbalanced.

If you want to complain about aircraft noise, please see our Complaints Page