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Plans to double the size of Luton Airport approved on Friday
Campaigners have described the decision to expand Luton Airport by double its capacity “a sad day for democracy.”
London Luton Airport Limited, which is owned by Luton Borough Council, will see its capacity doubled to 18 million passengers per year, following a nine-hour development control meeting on Friday.
The Department for Communities and Local Government will now consider whether the application should be determined by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles or whether the council can proceed to issue the consent.
Airport bosses said the expansion, which will use the existing runway from its current maximum of 11.5 million, will generate 6,000 jobs - a major boost to the local economy.
Since proposals were announced in 2012 objectors from local town and parish councils, campaign groups and private individuals voiced serious concerns about the proposals, including noise pollution, additional flights, climate change and global warming.
Andrew Lambourne from campaign group Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) said it was a “sad day for democracy."
He said: “It takes courage for a Councillor to stand up and say to their planning advisers, 'you need to do more to protect the quality of life of our residents.’
"Sadly, none showed that kind of courage – even though we could see that they wanted to.”
“The voting process when it came was heart-rending. All the councillors expressed their deep concern over the seriousness and difficulty of the decision they were about to take given on the one hand the need to do right by Luton, and on the other hand the need to do right by the people of Luton. In the end, Luton won – and hence lost.”
Mr Lambourne added the plans should be called in by Mr Pickles because “half the committee was absent.”
Councillor Amy O’Callaghan who represents Luton South Ward, the area most affected by aircraft noise , was away for pre-booked Christmas holidays.
He said: “Ultimately this was such a big decision that to make it with half the committee absent was simply not democratic – and is another good reason why it should be called in.”
Following the announcement Glyn Jones, Managing Director of the airport said: “We have committed to developing an airport which everyone in the local area will be proud of, and passengers from all over the world will enjoy visiting.
“In the year of our 75th Anniversary this is an exciting milestone for all of us at the airport, the local area, and the millions of passengers who use us for business travel, to visit friends and family or to get away on holiday.”
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