London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) is proposing to significantly expand. Nearly doubling in size, the plans would cater for an additional 14 million passengers per year, almost doubling the airport’s current capacity.
Apart from the already suggested DART line - a light railway line, which would link Luton Station with the airport - the plans include a new terminal building, more parking spaces, business facilities, additional access roads, and other additional airport facilities. The airport would nearly double in size, swallowing up land that is currently home to the award winning Wigmore Park.
The much loved park would be partly destroyed and replaced with a new open space in the Green Belt further east. Although the plans mention new conservation measures, like nesting facilities a move like this will of course mean the destruction of a mature nature reserve. Clearly any resettlement will mean great disruption to the wildlife in the area, not to mention the loss of mature trees and shrubs.
Additional passengers would of course mean additional air traffic over Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The flight path to the east goes straight over the villages of southern rural Hitchin and the town of Stevenage. Air traffic flight paths will need to be spread thus affecting more people more severely. More aircraft using the single runway will put the airport at a greater risk of disruption meaning planes queueing for longer, circling in the air space above us.
The plans presented by LLAL mention an additional 200 households that will be affected significantly by increased noise disruption. With more planes in the air, aircraft will be forced to fly lower than ever before, bringing more disruption to more areas in the Three Counties area.
An 80% increase in flights will also bring a significant increase in air pollution. The fumes from the engines will not only be more concentrated in the areas that are already close to airport and flight paths, but will be spread more widely, due to multiplication of flight paths. With airplanes being forced to fly lower the emissions will remain closer to the ground, thus affecting the inhabitants underneath more intensely.
But more travelers also means more ground traffic. Even if the airport manages to increase the percentage of passengers arriving by public transport (currently not even 16% arrive by train), nearly doubling the ground traffic around the airport will have a significant impact on the streets in Hertfordshire. LLAL’s planners speak of an optimistically low increase in traffic through Hitchin, whilst councilors in Hertfordshire expect much higher numbers - between a 10 and 20% increase in cars travelling through Hitchin. With congestion and air pollution already illegal and at breaking point at peak times this is an additional burden the towns in Hertfordshire simply cannot take. LLAL suggests minor improvements to a handful of junctions along the A505, but does not appreciate that our historic towns can simply not absorb any more car traffic.
The suggested expansion would have catastrophic effects on traffic congestion, air quality and noise in Hertfordshire. And yet LLAL wants to sell these plans as a boost for the economy. Certainly those airlines offering flights from Luton would make more money for shareholders. As would Luton Borough Council, the owner of the airport. But the money the council makes off the airport is bound for re-investment into the airport. A vicious circle of growth, at the expense of people living in the town and those next to it. The estimated 4000 additional jobs, will be created under the same conditions as they currently exist: zero hour contracts, in a toxic environment.
To create jobs that genuinely benefit residents Luton Borough Council could use their influence in airport management to request that Luton Airport finally build the business park, that has held planning permission for years. This is a brilliant opportunity to attract Green Industries, and create sustainable employment and benefits for the whole region.
Instead they support the plan of growing an airport, that doesn’t need growing, whilst creating unhealthy employment and catastrophic environmental impacts locally and globally. Aviation is the fastest growing producer of greenhouse gasses. North Hertfordshire District Council, the British Parliament, leading scientists and environmental organisations worldwide agree that we live in a time of a climate emergency. We only have 10 years to put the brakes on the emissions we produce and create a more sustainable future. An expansion of an airport is the very opposite of what we need to do to tackle growing emissions.
The expansion plans for Luton airport need to be scrapped. LLAL need to rethink their growth strategy and be more ambitious in their sustainability goals. Luton Borough Council need to think outside the box and start investing in green infrastructure and industries that will boost the region’s excellent placement to become a hub for sustainable businesses and employment.
LLAL run the consultation till the 16th December, before the plans are going to be sent to the Secretary of State in summer 2020. North Hertfordshire and Stevenage Green Party are in contact with LLAL and the relevant councils clarify our views on the expansion plans.
We are currently collecting signatures to present to the Secretary of State next year, showing how strongly residents of Hertfordshire object to the plans.
To find out more or support our campaign, please get in touch:
North Hertfordshire and Stevenage Green Party
Telephone: 07442 762186
NH&S Green Party
5 Bullocks Hill
St Paul’s Walden
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