Luton Airport expansion plans spark birth of new campaign group, HALE
A new campaign group called “Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion” (HALE) – has been formed by angry residents living under Luton Airport’s flight paths, in response to Luton Borough Council’s plans to create an airport potentially bigger than Stansted or Manchester on the already congested site. HALE is seeking to mobilise people’s interest and awareness around Luton’s expansion plans, because to double the amount of noise, traffic and flights will be unbearable. HALE held their first public meeting on 23rd February. Feelings are running high, and the airport’s consultation is flimsy and inadequate, with insufficient information on almost all topics. HALE has researched noise figures and found that flights from Luton are getting noisier each year despite the myth that modern planes are quieter – the fact is that the fleets are getting larger, heavier and louder.
A new campaign group called “Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion” (HALE) – has been formed by angry residents living under Luton Airport’s flight paths, in response to Luton Borough Council’s plans to create an airport bigger than Stansted or Manchester on the already congested site.
22 February 2012 (HALE press release)
EXPANSION PLANS SPARK BIRTH OF NEW CAMPAIGN GROUP
Angry residents living under Luton Airport’s flight paths have formed a new campaign group called “Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion”, or HALE.
This is in direct response to Luton Borough Council’s plans to create an airport bigger than Stansted or Manchester on the already congested site to “optimise” the cash return for Luton. [ In 2011 Manchester had slightly more passengers than Stansted, with both just over 18 million. Luton's plans are for 18 million. Link ].
“Residents across Hertfordshire will experience more noise, more air pollution and more congestion on their roads and railways, whilst Luton Borough Council pockets the cash,” said Nigel Emms, a founder member of HALE.
“It’s also outrageous that Luton Borough Council, which owns the Airport, can decide on its own planning application for such a controversial project,” he added.
HALE held its first public meeting in Flamstead Village Hall at 8pm on Thursday 23rd February. Local residents affected by the airport expansion proposal were welcome to attend.
HALE’s supporters say they want Luton Borough Council to:
- STOP highly controversial expansion plans which will see the airport double its operational capacity, becoming bigger than Stansted or Manchester Airports.
- COMMIT the airport operator to resolve the long-running issue of noisy night flights passing directly over rural communities.
- COMMIT the airport operator to be a better neighbour by resolving the problem of the year-on-year day and night increase in aircraft noisiness.
Extraordinarily even the airport’s current operator, Abertis, has dismissed the expansion plans, stating that:
- passenger forecasts are highly optimistic
- there is no environmental impact assessment on the proposed 275 extra flights per day
- the planned airport facilities would be inadequate
- whilst there would be some jobs gained there would be significant skilled job losses in cargo and corporate operations
HALE opposes the proposed development of the Airport on a number of grounds including:
- The airport already generates unacceptable noise over surrounding communities, especially at night and in the early morning.
- The existing road and rail infrastructure is insufficient to cope with double the airport traffic. This would detrimentally affect the M1, A5, A1081, A505 and Lower Luton Road, plus the commuter rail link to and from London.
- The proposed expansion encourages short-haul international air travel, against the UK’s commitments on carbon footprint reduction.
- The Council’s claims regarding job creation are overstated due to the effect of increased automation, and they ignore the jobs that would be exported by encouraging more overseas travel.
- The proposal ignores the cost to UK business of daily congestion on the M1 and on First Capital Connect.
Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead and Under Secretary of State for Transport, has pledged his support for the group after receiving a detailed report from the HALE team.
The group has launched a website at www.hale.uk.net
HALE is a campaign group set up to represent the interests of Hertfordshire communities threatened by the proposed expansion of Luton Airport.
HALE has 3 main objectives:
- STOP highly controversial expansion plans which will see the airport double its operational capacity, becoming bigger than Stansted orManchester airports
- COMMIT the airport operator to resolve the long running issue of noisy night flights passing directly over rural communities
- COMMIT the airport operator to be a better neighbour by resolving the problem of year on year increase in aircraft noisiness
What HALE’s supporters say: Andrew Lambourne
HALE founder member Andrew Lambourne said: “The Council’s proposals would have a very significant environmental impact on the Hertfordshire towns and villages close to Luton Airport. Flight frequency will increase from one every two or three minutes to one every minute and a half during peak times – generating more or less continuous noise.
“The Council are using computer-modelled “noise contours” to claim that the noise increase won’t be a problem. Unfortunately they also claim that the flights are getting quieter over time, whereas the airport’s own published noise figures during the past 5 years show exactly the opposite.
“The airspace around LutonAirport is hemmed in by restrictions such as the Bovingdon stack, which mean that the planes are not free to climb quickly to altitude. As a result they fly slowly and inefficiently at low altitudes for longer than they need to. This generates far more noise and pollution, and burns much more fuel than necessary. In today’s world it is quite simply irresponsible.
“Rather than short-sightedly looking simply to maximise the cash return from the airport, Luton Borough Council should instead engage with the serious issues of operating a rural airport responsibly and minimising the environmental damage it causes.”
What HALE’s supporters say: Nigel Emms
Founder member Nigel Emms said: “Planes from Luton Airport do not follow flight tracks accurately even at the current volumes of traffic. Last summer the airport ran a trial which generated more than 7,000 complaints before it was eventually scrapped.
“Night flights are a particular problem and the airport operators admit that planes are overflying villages rather than following the correct track, and they have not been able to resolve the issue. As a result, people are regularly awoken at 2:30 in the morning.
“Luton Council own the airport and define the terms of the operating license. If we can’t trust them to manage the existing levels of flights why on earth should we trust them to double it!”
What HALE’s supporters say: Tim Moss
HALE founder member Tim Moss said “What strikes me as remarkable is that the owner and financial beneficiary of the airport should be able to give its own project planning permission. The country has grown tired of politicians signing off their own expenses and bankers setting their own bonuses: surely it cannot be right for Luton Borough Council to decide on a scheme that primarily affects North Hertfordshire but financially benefitsLuton. We have no expectation of a fair trial.
“The consultation has given no details on how the operator will address the environmental impact of pollution, noise and carbon emissions. There are no proposals to resolve the inevitable congestion on the First Capital Connect, the M1 and other major roads outside the airport boundary. This is an ill thought out proposal that is trying to take financial advantage of a commercial break clause with no thought for the impact on neighbouring communities.”
The Herts Advertiser wrote, on 24th February 2012:
Villagers unite against plans for Luton Airport expansion
by Debbie White
ILLAGERS around St Albans have launched a campaign group to fight Luton Airport’s ambitious expansion plans to double passenger numbers, a scheme they have criticised as a “total farce”.
Angry residents living under the airport’s flight paths have formed a new group called Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE).
London Luton Airport Limited, wholly owned by Luton Borough Council (LBC), has announced plans to double capacity to 18 million passengers a year.
It claims the expansion would create up to 6,000 new jobs and generate millions of pounds of investment.
The airport is to submit a planning application to the council, which is the area’s planning authority, in April.
However a public exhibition on the scheme attended by about 150 villagers in Flamstead last week has failed to appease residents.
Nigel Emms, founder member of HALE, said: “Residents across Hertfordshire will experience more noise, more air pollution and more congestion on their roads and railways whilst Luton borough council pockets the cash.”
He said it was “outrageous” that LBC could decide its own planning application.
The campaigners, via new website www.hale.uk.net, have called upon the airport to resolve the long-running issue of noisy planes and in particular evening flights.
HALE held its first public meeting on the controversial scheme at Flamstead on Thursday, February 23.
Nigel said the existing road and rail infrastructure was insufficient to cope with twice as much airport traffic.
He added: “This would detrimentally affect the M1, A5, A1081, A505 and Lower Luton Road, plus the commuter rail link to and from London.”
Vikki Orvice, a journalist from Flamstead, described the airport’s exhibition as “flimsy” and a “total farce”.
She said there was no information on the environmental impact, number of night flights and consultants were unaware that residents of Flamstead and Redbourn suffered from plane noise.
The scheme has also been questioned by airport operator, London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL).
The consortium has asked whether airline prices will have to increase dramatically to cover the cost should numbers not reach the estimated 18 million passengers.
It asked what the environmental impact, in particular noise and air quality, would be if flights increased by a proposed 275 a day.
A spokesman added: “We firmly believe that further development must be based on the core considerations of safety, feasibility, sustainability and environmental sensitivity.
“We will therefore publish our own detailed proposal for the further expansion of [the] airport during the second half of the month.”
Local business people have told us they’re worried about the effect on traffic and transporting their goods around.
Flights from Luton are getting noisier each year despite the myth that modern planes are quieter – the fact is that the fleets are getting larger, heavier and louder.”
We believe the futureLuToN team is providing misleading information to the public about aircraft noise trends during their consultation on Luton Airport expansion. Data from the airport’s own Annual Reports shows that the noisiness of departing flights is increasing year on year, despite futureLuToN’s claims to the contrary. Steve Heappey, the public information display boards, and the futureLuToN website all appear to have got this crucial information wrong.
futureLuToN claim a quieter trend over time on their website and display boards:
Now look at the following graphs showing the percentage of departures from Luton Airport which are noisier than 76dbA, by day and night, from 2005 to 2010:
In 2005 only 8% of departing daytime flights were above 76dbA – by 2010 this had doubledto around 16%. At night, 10% were louder than 76dbA but this had doubled to 20% in 2010. These figures clearly show that the flights are getting noisier over time – and the raw data has been available in the public domain for years. Did they miss it?
Why the additional noise?
Essentially it’s caused by the changing mix from older smaller 737s to the newer, larger, heavier Airbus 319/320s and 737-800s. The effect of this is completely the opposite to what futureLuToN are saying. “As passenger numbers increase”, Steve Heappey said, ”bigger planes will be used so that double the passengers does not mean double the flights.”
But the last 5 years have shown that bigger planes mean more noise, hence they are completely misleading us by claiming that the aircraft will be quieter.
The annual noise figures for departing flights from Luton Airport can be found here: Annual Reports 2005-2010. A shoolchild with a pocket calculator could add up the number of flights that are louder than a chosen value and calculate the percentage of the total. To save you the bother you can download the results: Luton Airport Noise Trends. These will show you the real picture behind their tables of data.
Does misinforming the public over a serious issue invalidate the consultation process ?