Plans to double capacity of Luton Airport will be decided today

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St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Plans to double the capacity of London Luton Airport will be decided today.

Since proposals were announced in 2012 campaigners have been fighting against the airport expansion, which would see 18 million passengers pass through every year.

Luton Airport's capacity would match those of Stansted or Manchester airports.

Campaign groups have formed against the plans, including Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) and Save our Skies, which represent the views of Hertfordshire residents from surrounding towns and villages including Harpenden, Flamstead and Markyate, who say they could face more sleepless nights if the proposal is given the green light.

The meeting will take place at Luton Borough Council today. Andrew Lambourne, from HALE said the decision should be called in for independent scrutiny.

He said: “This is a hugely unpopular plan: 88 per cent of the respondents are opposed to further expansion, with only 9 per cent in support. “75 per cent of the public who responded to the original consultation said ‘no’ to the proposal to double the capacity of this airport.

“These figures tell us that local people do not want further expansion at Luton Airport – which is already running at twice the five million passenger capacity it asked for in its last planning application.

“Remember that it was Luton Council which forced the airport operators to make the application in the first place, by threatening to take away their operating concession if they did not comply. This is not democracy, it’s strong-arm tactics by a desperate Council with has no vision for creating greater economic diversity in the Luton area.”

Hertfordshire County Councillor Richard Thake has already succeeded in getting an article 25 planning order issued, which prevents Luton Borough Council from granting planning permission until the Secretary of State decides whether or not to call in the planning application.

Campaigners agree that the scale of the proposed works are such that the application counts as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, based on the extra capacity.

If an airport expansion adds additional handling capability exceeding 10 million passengers per annum, the project is legally required to be referred to central government for determination.

Mr Lambourne added: “The expansion proposals fly in the face of national policy, which is to reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise, and to avoid giving rise to adverse health effects due to noise.

“It’s well known that aircraft noise at night is injurious to health, and yet the airport wants to double the flights between 10pm and midnight, and between 5 and 7am.

“Given its location, and the existing capacity issues on local roads and rail services, Luton Airport is operating at a scale where the environmental impact of further expansion is likely to cause blight rather than extra prosperity.”

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