Our thanks to Chiltern Countryside Group for this update on HS2 and Luton Airport expansion plans:
We sincerely hope that you and your families are keeping well and coping in these strange times in which we all find ourselves. We have indeed been blessed with the most wonderful Spring, now going into Summer, although the gardeners and farmers amongst us would love some solid downpours of rain (preferably at night!). The Chiltern countryside has had an exceptionally beautiful Spring with an abundance of flowers, blossom and bluebells under that stunning canopy of acid green beech. We hope that, like many of us, you’ve enjoyed some lovely walks locally, perhaps discovering new beauty spots on your doorstep, away from the ‘madding crowd’.
Following the publication of the Oakervee Review into HS2, shortly before which the Deputy Chairman, Lord Berkeley, resigned, the Prime Minister announced in February the Government’s intention to proceed with construction of HS2. The Review estimated that the net cost of HS2 to the DfT would be £62bn to £69bn. We believe even higher figures have been quoted more recently.
Notice to Proceed
In April, the Government issued its formal Notice to Proceed, ostensibly to give stability to the construction industry at this time of huge change.
No doubt you share our sense of outrage and speechlessness at such a decision at this time of national and international crisis, when international travel has come to practically a standstill, millions face unemployment and real hardship and businesses have now found that working from home is not only a viable and practical option, but indeed positively transforms the way many will work in a post Covid-19 future.
It remains an absolute tragedy that irreplaceable and precious countryside, such as our AONB, is being desecrated as we write, for something which we don’t want, don’t need and which is likely to never be used as planned or deliver the economic benefits once predicted. Time for a re-think!
What You Can Do to Help
Please write to your MP, especially if they were newly elected last year, expressing your views on this unwise decision, which is based not on current life or even the probable future, but on historic work patterns and budgets which can no longer apply. We believe that in view of the life-changing events of the past 3 months, this decision should have gone back to Cabinet for proper re-evaluation and discussion. When you write to your MP, it would be helpful if you could make this point please.
London Luton Airport
Changes in Operational Procedures
We continue to monitor the situation at LLA, but of course there are very few flights operating presently. However, for those of us who are overflown by Easterly arrivals, our supporters are telling us that these are being brought in at lower altitudes, over some of the highest points of the Chiltern Hills and the AONB, and approaching from south of the airport, which is not the normal pattern.
There are few flights, some still at night, which is unbelievable, but all of them are now consistently taking the same route, which increases noise, visual and air pollution over communities and landscapes some 17 miles from LLA’s runway. Almost all originate from Istanbul or Eastern Europe and the same airline, which does not operate the quieter aircraft LLA often tell us about. Our major concern is that this may now become the new norm which would not be good news and indeed, we understand, may be breaching agreed flight paths.
Therefore, in addition to our normal liaison with LLA’s Environmental Office, the CCG Steering Group has written on your behalf to the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) challenging these procedures, seeking valid reasons for their use and strongly requesting that Easterly arrivals revert to the previously used flight paths. We await their response which we will share once received.
Meanwhile, if you would like to see a copy of the Steering Group’s letter to NATS, please email us for this. We will not be posting it on the Group’s website as it contains personal data but we are very happy to share with supporters on request.
What You Can Do to Help
Please complain to LLA whenever you are disturbed by its operations. Even though there are few aircraft operating right now, it’s still just as important as it ever was to register you’ve been disturbed. There is absolutely no reason why the arrival procedures are now consistently changed to more environmentally damaging ones as described above.
Please again write to your MP, stating your views on this issue. It needs to be challenged now, not when the changes have become the norm.
If you so wish, also write to NATS at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Luton Airport Expansion Plans
As you will know, LLA had the intention to submit plans for expansion to quadruple passenger numbers p.a to the Secretary of State for Transport for a Development Consent Order. In view of the almost complete falling off of aviation travel and the great uncertainty of its future, we wrote to the promoter, requesting an update on these. We now understand that Future Luton, the promoters of the LLA expansion project, have now withdrawn their proposal to submit these plans in June 2020 for a Development Consent Order. Good news indeed!
Many thanks to you all for your continued support and interest in our campaigns to protect our beloved Chilterns and its AONB. Remember, together we give power to the message.