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Oppose Luton Airport Expansion: 2021 posts

London Luton Airport expansion

Over the last few years London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) have submitted a number of proposals to significantly and aggressively expand the airport. 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.

Find more information on the proposals, the potential impacts, our response to the suggested benefits and our actions against it below:

July 2021 update

In May, Mr. Graham Olver, the Chief Executive of London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) announced that the expansion plans for the airport had been revised. The completion of Terminal Two has been moved back from 2041 to 2045 while focusing on the improvements to the existing terminal,  the construction costs are expected to be reduced by $1 billion and the pathway to be  aligned with the Council’s declaration on a climate emergency and net zero carbon. However, the plan to increase the capacity from 18 million to 32 million passengers a year by 2039 is still in place and the review does not address the devastating impact on the local countryside and the loss of 70 acres of Wigmore Park, felling of hundreds of mature trees and the ensuing loss of biodiversity. The airport expansion will cause a significant increase in both noise and air pollution with some long-term implications to the local residents and surrounding villages. Air pollution increases chances of chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma, heart disease, as well as dementia in affected population and according to the Royal College of Physicians*, it is contributing to 40,000 excess deaths in the UK.  Noise has an adverse effect on physical and mental health.

Furthermore, the increase in aviation traffic will undermine the UK’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and the required technological advances to prevent the harmful effects of air traffic to the environment and increase of global warming are not likely to be realized in time to prevent the climate-related disaster. There are carbon emissions emitted by aircraft and also from the cars transporting passengers to and from the airport. Luton is already the fourth most congested town in the UK and it will not be able to cope with additional traffic that a second terminal would bring.

LLAL is fully owned by Luton Borough Council and the airport’s income stream has been negatively impacted by restrictions and reduction in passengers caused by COVID. The LLAL’s current debt stands at £500 million and it received a loan of £139 million from Luton Borough Council to combat the effects of pandemic. The concerns about the environmental impact of the expansion are compounded by the LLAL’s precarious financial position.

*’Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution’ – a  call for action. /doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.17-1-8Accessed on 11/07/2021.

March 2021 update

In January 2021 Luton Airport submitted a planning application proposing increasing their annual passenger numbers from 18 million to 19 million, with requests to amend noise restrictions in both daytime and nighttime to achieve this. As with previous applications, it has drawn strenuous opposition from residents and local environmental groups. The application is currently awaiting a decision (as of March 2021).

The Story So Far...

The proposals released in Autumn 2019 hoped to nearly double the airport in size and capacity to cater for an extra 14 million passengers per year. 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 and much loved Wigmore Park.

LLAL ran a consultation which ended on 16th December 2019. Alongside residents, other environmental groups and some MPs, we had grave concerns about the expansion plans:

• Impact to Nature - The plans would use land from Wigmore Park with a new open space proposed in the Green Belt further east. Although the plans included conservation measures, it would mean destruction of a mature nature reserve, with great disruption to wildlife in the area and loss of mature trees and shrubs.

• More people affected by more noise - The extra air traffic would require the flight path to spread out which would affect more people more severely. The current flight path to the east goes straight over the villages of southern rural Hitchin and Stevenage. More aircraft using the single runway will put the airport at a greater risk of disruptions leaving planes queueing in the air space above us. An additional 200 households that would be affected significantly by increased noise disruption. Increasing number of planes would force planes to fly lower, further increasing the noise pollution.

• More people affected by air pollution -The 80% increase in flights would bring a significant increase in air pollution and affecting a greater area. With airplanes being forced to fly lower the emissions will remain closer to the ground, thus affecting the inhabitants underneath more intensely.

• Increased ground traffic (even with increased passengers coming by public transport - less than 16% at current) will mean busier roads. With congestion and air pollution already illegal and at breaking point at peak times this is an additional burden the towns in Hertfordshire cannot take.

• No true equitable economic benefits - The airport expansion is billed as offering economic growth to the region and an increase in jobs. However the money the council makes off the airport is bound for reinvestment into the airport - a vicious cycle of growth at the expense of quality of life. The estimated 4000 additional jobs will be created under the same conditions as they currently exist: zero hour contracts, in a toxic environment.

Our Activities To Oppose This:

• Green campaigners created postcards that give Hertfordshire residents the option to object to the expansion.

• We work with Luton and Hertfordshire councillors to promote alternative plans.

• Green campaigners have created an online petition against the expansion that reached more than 1.5k signatures.

• Greens collaborate with LADACAN, SLAE, XR and other organisations to tell the truth about the expansion.

• We have created guidance on how to use the consultation form to object to the expansion plans.

Useful Links

To get involved even further or if you have any questions, please get in touch with

Other useful information and resources are available here:

Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion

Harpenden Sky

Luton and District Association for the Control of AircraftNoise LADACAN

St Albans Aircraft Noise Defence STAND

St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS)

Stop Luton Airport Expansion (SLAE)