In response to London Luton Airport Operations Limited’s (LLAOL – the current operators) plans for the expansion of the airport (click here)
Hitchin Forum forwarded the following letter, the result of discussions within the transport and planning groups:-
To – Project LLA Consultation, London Luton Airport Operations Limited, Navigation House, Airport Way, Luton, LU2 9LY
Luton Airport Expansion “Masterplan” Consultation
We have noted with a great deal of concern the intention of London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAL) to apply for planning permission to expand the airport. We have a number of objections to the proposal as well as the process which Abertis (acting as LLAL) and Luton Borough Council have embarked upon.
- The need for expansion has not been demonstrated. Long term high oil prices and the economic slowdown are likely to reduce demand for air travel, particularly in the “no-frills” area where Luton hopes for expansion. There is no need to do anything now, particularly as the airport is not yet utilising all of the capacity which it currently has.
- The Department for Transport is currently undertaking a major review of aviation policy. It is not sensible to pre-empt this with a planning application at Luton before the context for planning airport capacity becomes clear.
- It seems that the timing of this application results from a commercial dispute between Abertis and Luton Borough Council, which has led to the rather bizarre situation where we now have two competing plans for Luton Airport, one from the owner and one from the operator, neither of which can take account of emerging government policy.
- Luton Airport is owned by Luton Borough Council, which receives a substantial contribution to its finances every year from the airport. It is wholly wrong that any planning application should also be decided by LBC, which has a clear conflict of interest. We would hope that Abertis supports our position that LBC needs to stand aside from any planning decision, which should be referred to the Secretary of State so that it can be decided in an impartial and transparent manner reflecting the interests of surrounding areas as well as the narrower financial interests of LBC.
- It is irresponsible to be encouraging more flights while there are no solutions on the horizon to the problems of noise nuisance, or emissions of CO2 and other pollutants. The big gains appear to have already been made. Any future gains are likely to be minor and will have to wait for replacement of the aircraft using Luton, most of which are already modern types.
- Expansion threatens to exacerbate congestion on the A505 through Hitchin, which cannot readily be dealt with in an environmentally acceptable fashion that does not threaten the town and its green belt to the south and west.
- The claims of employment growth seem somewhat fanciful. Our understanding is that expansion in recent years has resulted in an insignificant increase in employment. We would expect this trend to continue as any growth at Luton is likely to be from the “no-frills” sector, where the aim is to keep employment at an absolute minimum to reduce costs and maintain low fares. A figure of 4,000 additional jobs (1,000 of them on the airport site) needs to be justified rather than just stated if it is to be believable.
If you would like to comment on this do contact our transport group on email@example.com