Two thirds of respondents to Luton Airport's Masterplan in favour of developing its capacity to 18 million passengers per year

Luton Airport has today announced the findings of the public consultation on plans to develop its capacity to 18 million passengers per year.

The Masterplan to expand the airport to match the capacity of Stansted or Manchester airports, which has been slammed by campaign groups in St Albans and Harpenden, revealed a total of 65 per cent of respondents said they supported the airport’s proposals.

During the course of the consultation, a total of 1,360 people responded from local, national and international businesses, local residents, local chambers of commerce, trade unions, airline partners, holiday makers and business passengers.

A total of 884 respondents said they supported the airport’s development proposals because of the economic benefits to the region, employment generation, private inward investment and improvements to the airport’s infrastructure.

380 respondents (28 per cent) said they did not support the plan because of the potential impact of increased noise and additional night flights, and 94 respondents (7 per cent) said they were undecided.

London Luton Airport Operations (LLAOL) said they would take these comments on board and use them to improve and amend its planning application by adding two further mitigation measures to the six new noise initiatives it has already proposed.

They now plan to introduce a new quota and aircraft movement limit for night time flights and a reduction in noise violation limits.

LLAOL have also proposed to introduce a fining system for aircraft breaching these limits, effective between 2014 and 2015, and not 2018 as initially proposed.

Glyn Jones, managing director of the airport said: "LLAOL has listened to the local community and has put in place a robust plan to deliver a balanced, sustainable development, which offers a number of significant economic and social benefits, including the creation of approximately 5,100 new jobs, increasing value to the local economy and improving the built environment of the airport".

Despite the new proposals, members from Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) claim the introduction of a new noise quota "does not add up".

Tim Moss, from HALE, said: "The airport tries to claim that the impact of a 60 per cent increase in flights will not increase noise.

"It simply does not add up and the truth of the matter is that the airport will put commercial expedience before public responsibility.

"Otherwise why would they propose to start flying at 5am instead of the 6am start we currently suffer?"

Mr Moss said the noise violation threshold reductions "was not a fair exchange to having 57,000 additional slightly less noisy flights by 2030 and 160 extra flights a day."

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