Rival plans for Luton Airport expansion to be merged
7 June 2012 (BBC)
Rival plans for Luton Airport expansion to be merged
A row which threatened the expansion of Luton Airport has been settled after the two sides agreed to merge plans.
In January, airport owners Luton Borough Council revealed proposals to boost passenger numbers to 18 million per year.
But in March, operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) said 15 million was more realistic.
The combined plans will now allow for a maximum of 18 million passengers, creating about 4,750 jobs.
London Luton Airport, the UK’s fifth biggest, currently handled about 10 million passengers a year and is owned by the council under the name London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL).
Plans from both the owner and operator were put forward after claims the south-east of England would see a shortage of air travel capacity by 2020.
On revealing its original blueprint, LLAL said they needed a partner to help cover the cost and there was a possibility they might end the current deal with LLAOL in 2014, when it was due to expire in 2028.
The operator questioned the environmental impact of the expansion plan and said it would impose a termination payment on the council of several hundred millions of pounds if their contract was ended prematurely.
In a joint statement, LLAL and LLAOL said the combined proposal will “ensure the main elements from both proposals are retained” and the “increase in capacity will take place within the existing boundary and use the existing runway”.
More details will be released when the plans are finalised in July and it is expected a planning application will be lodged by LLAOL later in the summer.
LLAL chairman Robin Harris said the two plans had “very significant similarities and synergies”.
“By integrating these, we have listened to the feedback of residents and of partners and have arrived at what we feel is the most efficient and effective option to ensure the continued development of the airport whilst addressing environmental concerns,” he said.
Managing director of LLAOL Glyn Jones said: “The airport has significant potential to deliver even more for the local community and wider region”.
The new proposal would also enable the airport to continue to be operated by LLAOL until 2031.
There will need to be a new “Master Plan” agreed between both the owner and the operator, as the previous Master Plan consultation was that of the operator – and different to what the owner was proposing. This is likely to come out in July.
It is likely that there will be a short consultation on this, and also on the Environmental Statement which must accompany a planning application. Then a planning application will probably be submitted by the operator, some time this summer or autumn. The operator has to submit this, and there would be criticism if the owner (Luton Borough Council) judged its own application.
One of the local MPs has asked Eric Pickles to ensure that the case is considered nationally rather than by Luton Borough Council locally as there are strong concerns locally about the conflict of interest that Luton Borough Council has being both applicant and local planning authority.
The airport press release can be downloaded from:
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And, of course, there remains that “up to 30 million” scheme that is (or was?) a gleam in the owner’s eye to be reckoned with – that, too, was rumoured to be destined for the Planning Inspectorate (because it constituted a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, too large for the local Planning Authority to determine). More detail as it becomes available.
Luton airport expansion plans move ahead
8 June 2012 (Planning)
A planning application to expand Luton Airport is expected this summer after a truce in a row between its owner and operator.
Owner London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), part of Luton Borough Council, proposed an expansion in Januarythat was opposed as impractical by operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL).
Under that plan the airport would have increased its annual passenger numbers from 11.5 million to 18 million within its present boundary and without a new runway.
It hoped to exploit the demand for increased air traffic in the south east, given the government’s opposition to expansion at Heathrow.
But LLAOL warned that it would demand a termination fee running into millions of pounds were the council, as it had suggested, to remove it as manager of the larger airport.
In March the operator questioned the council’s growth assumptions, its ability to pay the expected termination costs, and the environmental effects of expansion on the scale proposed.
The two sides have now agreed that LLAOL will continue to run the airport until 2031 and that they will try to integrate their rival plans for expansion into a planning application this summer.
A statement said this would “ensure the main elements from both proposals are retained”, but an airport spokesman was unable to say what these would be.
LLAL chair Robin Harris said: “We are confident that together we will be able to implement a plan which brings substantial benefits to the regional economy and makes a contribution to addressing the lack of aviation capacity in London and south east England.”