The plans to increase passenger capacity at London Luton Airport to 19 million a year have been approved.
While Luton Borough Council’s development management committee initially approved the plans to increase passenger capacity from 18 million to 19 million a year, as well as amend day and night noise contours, a local inquiry was held earlier this year, to review ‘relevant aspects’ of the plans.
The inspectorate decided to greenlight the proposal, subject to conditions. While they agreed that the increase in flights, along with travel by staff and passengers to and from the airport could increase greenhouse gas emissions, they stated that the airport’s owner was committed to a sustainability strategy across the airport.
Following the outcome of the inquiry, Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning criticised the decision during a Parliamentary debate, saying: ‘The increased noise and pollution will affect the people of Hertfordshire and not the people of Luton who get all the financial benefits.
‘The decision to allow increased number of flights – the expansion will almost double Luton airport – was fundamentally opposed by me, other local MPs and residents, and it will be a very sad day when it goes ahead.’
Victoria Collins Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Harpenden & Berkhamsted, said: ‘The government’s decision to expand passenger numbers at Luton airport is an insult to our local communities concerned about climate change, plagued by aircraft noise and air pollution and the strain on our local infrastructure.
‘Luton Airport, supported by Luton Council, made this application retrospectively because they had already breached legal noise and passenger limits in 2019, and wanted to press on.
‘Despite the admission that there will be more emissions from aircraft and ground transport, and that air quality will be adversely impacted as a result of this expansion the Secretaries of State have approved the expansion anyway.’
Plans for a second terminal, which could see passenger numbers up to 32 million a year, are still in the pipeline. This proposal is being considered by inspectors as part of National Infrastructure Planning – its examination stage is set to finish in February 2024.