Luton Borough Council’s decision to allow Luton Rising’s request for an increase in passengers to 19 million passengers per year (mppa) and relax noise controls will go ahead.
Please note that this is not the same as Luton Rising’s application for a Development Consent Order to increase passenger numbers to 32 million per year (mppa) which is currently the subject of a Public Examination.
On December 1st, 2021, Luton Borough Council agreed with Luton Rising’s request to allow an increase in passengers to 19 million passengers per year (mppa) and relax noise controls to which it had previously agreed when permission was granted in 2014 to expand to 18mppa by 2028. This followed a period of rapid incentivised expansion which led to breaches of the passenger cap and noise controls in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Hitchin Forum was among a large number of objectors who spoke at the Planning Control meeting on November 30th, which concluded on 1st December.
On 2nd December 2021, Hitchin Forum wrote requesting the decision be called-in.
‘Our reason for this request (i.e. to call-in the decision) is that the decision was based on false and misleading information provided to a group of lay Councillors ill equipped to interrogate it. A number of assertions were made by representatives of the airport and its expert consultants during that meeting which were not open to challenge and appeared to be accepted by Councillors. The 7-2 decision in favour of the relaxations were clearly driven by the acceptance by Councillors of the airport’s argument for the economic benefit and jobs that this would bring, even though it was conceded that some of the jobs, which might be available in the short term, could disappear in the future with changes in technology – an observation which Councillors seemed to ignore.
Whilst some of the information was of a technical nature, the most obvious was the claim that the passenger increase would lead to an increase of just 3 flights per day. That equates to 913 passengers on each flight, which is clearly absurd.’
Subsequently, it was agreed that the Secretaries of State for Transport and Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would grant the request to call-in the decision. A public Inquiry was held in 2022. On Friday 13th October (2023) the decision of the Secretaries of State (or to be precise their deputies) was finally announced. Unsurprisingly, it was to support the Council’s decision of December 2021. The reason was that the socio-economic benefits of airport growth were considered to outweigh the environmental damage, both locally in terms of noise, increased traffic and pollution and globally in terms of increased carbon emissions.
However, the decision is not without caveats. According to LADACAN’s website,
‘….. the Inspectors who conducted the Inquiry observed that local people had lost trust in the planning system, and there is now a condition that the Noise Management Plan is followed.
In addition, Luton Airport cannot expand beyond 18 million passengers until it produces:
- a strategy to reduce its long term noise footprint
- a Transport Plan
- a Carbon Reduction Strategy’
Further details can be found on the LADACAN website