Rise in complaints in St Albans district about Luton plane noise – residents are angry
Three campaign groups, representing St Albans, Harpenden and wider-Hertfordshire have banded together to call upon local politicians to do more on the problem of increasing aircraft noise, than merely call for a review or consultation on the problem. Campaigners from the alliance of HarpendenSky, Save our Skies (SoS) and Herts-based LADACAN say St Albans is at risk of ‘turning into Heathrow’ unless the rise in noise pollution is stopped. Luton had more passengers than ever in 2016, at about 14.5 million. But there was also a 150% increase in complaints about noise. Residents in Hertfordshire want Bedfordshire, which owns the airport, to suffer more of its noise. Luton airport is owned by Luton council, and people in Hertfordshire say as Bedfordshire gets the profit, they should take more of the pain. Planes are getting bigger, heavier and noisier, and are flying even earlier in the morning and later at night. There is more noise affecting Flamstead, Redbourn, Harpenden, St Albans, and on to Sandridge and Stevenage. People overflown by increasingly narrow flight paths want politicians to do something and challenge the airport. However, politicians are always nervous of saying anything that might do perceived damage to economic growth, such as demand a ban on night flights.
Huge hike in complaints in St Albans district about plane noise from Luton Airport
9 February 2017
By Debbie White (Herts Advertiser)
St Albans is at risk of ‘turning into Heathrow’ if noise pollution from Luton Airport is not tackled immediately, residents have warned.
While the airport has recently boasted that 2016 was a record breaking year, with 14.5 million passengers travelling through Luton, that figure coincides with a 150% increase in complaints about noise.
Three campaign groups, representing St Albans, Harpenden and wider-Hertfordshire have banded together to call upon local politicians to do more than merely call for a review or consultation on the problem.
They want Bedfordshire-based Luton to fly its planes – which cross above dense residential areas every few minutes, including on Sundays – over its own area, and away from Hertfordshire.
A spokesperson for the alliance of HarpendenSky, Save our Skies (SoS) and Herts-based LADACAN said: “Luton Airport is growing rapidly, with millions of extra passengers and thousands of additional flights per year.
“Planes are getting bigger, heavier and noisier, and are flying even earlier in the morning and later at night.
“Aircraft noise is now prevalent across Hertfordshire, affecting Flamstead, Redbourn, Harpenden, St Albans, and on to Sandridge and Stevenage. Complaints have recently increased by over 150%, with a record number of new complainants.”
The campaign groups asked: “What are our local politicians doing about it? They appear unable to actually do anything.
“Fearful of affecting ‘the economy’, politicians are not unambiguously demanding a ban on night flights from Luton, or tighter caps on the number of flights or the routing of planes away from Herts altogether.”
This paper has continued to receive complaints from locals, fed up with the din.
One St Albans man recently warned: “St Albans is turning into Heathrow and the whole city will be much the worse for it if some immediate action isn’t taken. I’m writing on behalf of a local resident who has been laid up at home after hospital treatment to say that the overhead noise from absolutely ridiculous.”
He added: “The constant noise polluting St Albans and Sandridge has now become intolerable. It’s not an occasional plane, it is almost incessant, from dawn to late at night.”
St Albans resident Joanne Pearce-Westrop said there appeared to be more lower-flying planes over the district, with noisier jet engines, including during weekends.
She said that many local schools must also be afflicted by ‘continual noise pollution’ from Luton.
The alliance explained that the recent introduction of a new GPS-based aircraft navigation system, RNAV, has concentrated flights into a ‘wall of noise’ that extends right across the countryside and affects all the communities on either side. [This has been described by the CAA as a noise canyon, and by someone else in the industry as a noise sewer …. AW comment.]
This was introduced following a low-key ‘consultation’ which claimed that far fewer people would be overflown.
The campaign groups said: “This is a completely misleading claim, since aircraft noise propagates sideways. Yet how many of our politicians have denounced this RNAV ‘consultation’ as fatally flawed?
“The whole point of the Localism Act was to enable local government to tackle issues of importance to local communities.”
The alliance has also hit out at Luton borough council, which owns the airport, and “has pocketed over £95 million in profits” from it. While “Bedfordshire gets the gain, Hertfordshire gets the pain – noise and air pollution in ever-increasing amounts,” the campaigners said.
They have called upon councillors and politicians throughout Herts to “get off the fence and act in order to protect our communities from blight”.
St Albans MP Anne Main said that, in the near future, she will be meeting with residents, and is currently seeking answers on how the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation will affect this area.
Harpenden MP Peter Lilley has called on the Department for Transport to include Luton Airport in its consultation on night flight restrictions at London airports.
He said: “The noise caused by night flights from Luton is particularly distressing for those affected. As London grows, air traffic is increasing. There were 4,897 night flights into and out of Luton Airport between July and September 2016 – 12% more than during the same period in 2015.”
The department recently launched a consultation on the night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports – but not Luton. [Only those 3 airports are “designated” but not Luton]
• If you are being affected by Luton Airport noise, please lodge a complaint: http://www.london-luton.co.uk/corporate/community/noise/talking-to-lla/making-a-noise-complaint