Second consultation at Luton Airport – this time it’s the Master Plan

Back on 13th February, the London Luton Airport Ltd, that owns the airport, launched its public consultation into expansion plans, called  “futureLuToN:Optimisation”. This consultation ends on 25th March. But on 14th March, the operators of the airport, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) launched their own consultation on a new, draft Master Plan, prior to submission of a planning application. This Master Plan consultation ends on 25th April. Both consultations are to increase the number of flights greatly, with the LLAOL proposal anticipating 15- 16 million passengers per year eventually,   which is lower than the London Luton Airport Ltd plans. The plans appear to be relatively similar, neither propose extending the runway, and both are unconvincing on noise – which is bound to get significantly worse for all those overflown, with almost doubling of flights.

 More information about Luton Airport, and the “futureLuToN:Optimisation” consultation is at  Luton Airport

Another Master Plan


Apparently stung by Luton Borough Council’s threat to terminate its concession to run the Airport, the operating company, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL), has launched a “Master Plan” for expansion of the Airport.  A consultation on the “Master Plan” is open until 25th April after which LLAOL plans to apply for planning permission for its proposals.

At first view, these proposals appear little different from those put forward by the the Council (see below) but, while we have yet to wade through the extensive “spin” which the company seems to ladle into all of its publications, we have so far not found any horrifying suggestion of a future further huge expansion equivalent to the Council’s 30 million passengers threat.

The Master Plan is at   Master Plan 

The Master Plan states:

( a couple of extracts …)

“A draft masterplan for a large, 30 million passenger airport was published in 2006 but was withdrawn. It involved significant extension of the Airport’s boundaries. Our proposals in this masterplan, within the current boundary, meet forecast needs and also take account of the physical capacity of the site, the airspace capacity and operational capacity.” (Page 6)

“The existing parallel taxiway will be extended at both ends of the runway. At the western end of the runway, the parallel taxiway will be extended by 300 metres and at the eastern end by 200 metres. No further extension is necessary to support our proposals. Extensions to the full length of the runway and additional taxiway infrastructure would only be needed if a very significant increase in passenger throughput were envisaged.” (Page 30)

“The scheme of proposed improvements is highly sustainable in respect of making the best use of the existing infrastructure. Neither a runway extension nor new terminals are foreseen in this masterplan and efficient use is made of existing hard standing for aircraft
parking.” (Page 32)

“The number of passengers that are predicted to be associated with this increase in capacity is up to 15-16 mppa, compared with the current level of 9.6 mppa.”  (Page 34)

and various bland, and un-reassuring statements on noise, such as:

“We understand the impact of night flights on our neighbours and commit to reducing the current proportion of night flights. We will seek to balance the commercial value of operational flexibility against the community disturbance we recognise it can cause,
in order to deliver socially as well as environmentally sustainable growth at the Airport.” (Page 38)




Rival plan


The current operator of Luton Airport, LLAOL, has today announced its own plans for investment and growth over the next 15 years, to rival the one put forward by its owners Luton Borough Council.

LLAOL’s proposals are based on increasing capacity from nearly 10 million passengers per year to 15-16 million over the next 10 years. To achieve this they would increase the number and frequency of flights to one every 90 seconds at peak times. Their proposals also include improvements to the terminal building and the access roads – both of which are in urgent need of attention even for the current level of flights. Interestingly they only plan to get a return on this investment over 15 years, not the 30 years of the LBC [Luton Borough Council] proposal.

A key negative to their plans is that though the proportion of night flights is said to reduce, the number of night flights is not specified and may increase in step with the total number of flights. Local people want a reduction in night flights and night noise.

Another major negative is the admission that the number of flights will increase by 33% – and the number of passengers by 58%, hence they confirm that there will be a further increase in aircraft size. This means a continued increase in noisiness year on year, as we know from our research.

The proposal talks airily of monitoring and action plans to do with noise, pollution and other environmental impacts. Remember what LLAOL have delivered in the past:

  • a steady increase in the noisiness of planes since 2005
  • route changes that involve speed limits which increase noise and pollution
  • overflights of local towns and villages at night
  • flight trials which divert planes over local villages with no concern for the residents

Great credentials!

Local people are concerned about four key things in relation to Luton Airport:

  • the increasing noisiness of the flights – how will this be reversed?
  • the impact on road and rail congestion – how will this be controlled ?
  • night flights – how will this nuisance be reduced year on year ?
  • pollution – what is the impact of aircraft emissions on our health ?

LLAOL has a real opportunity here to commit to being a good neighbour – not just in words, but matched by actions. That means listening to local people. Glyn Jones the MD really needs to understand what it means to be living under a “wall of sound” as flights become ever more intrusive – starting at 6 in the morning and waking people at night.   HALE will continue to ensure that these issues remain firmly on the agenda.

Full details of the LLAOL Master Plan can be found on the airport website – click here
Our initial comments on this plan can be downloaded from this link: HALE on master plan

This means yet another 6-week public consultation, with the need to feed questions and comments to or by 25th April.

We have asked LBC to ensure that each respondent to their online questionnaire is sent a copy of their input, and this will make it easier to submit the questions to LLAOL. So far LBC has yet to respond, but watch this space…


LLAOL Master Plan consultation at


More from the HALE website:


Companies involved: Luton Airport is owned by Luton Borough Council (LBC) through a company called London Luton Airport Limited or LLAL. The airport is run day-to-day by a completely separate company called London Luton Airport Operations Limited or LLAOL. This operating company is part of a Spanish airport operations concern called abertis. In 1998 the owners LLAL awarded a 30-year operating contract to LLAOL to run Luton Airport.

“LLAL owns the airport for Luton Council, and LLAOL operates the airport day-to-day.”

Financial background: LLAOL the airport operating company charges airlines (and passengers, by way of parking, drop-off and trolleys) to use the airport, and pays some £23m per year to Luton Borough Council for the privilege of doing so. This money is used to pay for amenities in Luton, and to reduce Luton’s council taxes. Luton Council now wants the airport to make even more money for Luton, and is applying to its own planning department for permission to increase the annual passenger capacity from 9 million to 18 million.

“Luton Borough Council is the entity pushing for aggressive expansion of Luton Airport’s capacity so it gets more money.”

futureLuToN proposal: Luton Borough Council launched an aggressive set of airport expansion proposals in February 2012 under the banner futureLuToN. In an initial 6-week consultation phase they visited various towns and villages, and are asking for feedback and questions via email (best) or via an online questionnaire (which forces you to answer their questions). They say all the questions and online feedback will be covered when the planning application is issued in early April. The futureLuToN consultation period ends on 26th March.

“Luton Borough Council is threatening to end prematurely the 30-year operating concession held by LLAOL in order to get more investment for expansion under a new 30-year contract.”

London’s Local Airport rival proposal: LLAOL, the abertis-owned airport operator, has now unveiled its own plans for airport expansion in a bid to retain its operating concession, as well as threatening to sue LBC for £300 million if the break clause is triggered. Its banner is London’s Local Airport. Most of the proposals are more or less the same as those put forward by LBC, but the LLAOL bid proposes 2 million less passengers per year. This involves a separate 6-week public consultation, with an end date of 24th April. Although there is an email address for questions, they have not yet said if questions will be answered, nor do we know if they plan to run visiting roadshows to explain their proposals.

“LLAOL is threatening to sue Luton Borough Council for £300m if its operating concession is withdrawn.”

Response to the proposals: HALE is sharing its analysis with local Councils and MPs as they assess the two rival bids for airport expansion. The HALE website has been set up as an information resource for local people to use in assessing the proposals. We expose information which both proposals try to hide, and point out where they are being economical with the truth or even misleading. We highlight what the expansion proposals would mean in practice. People can use this information to ask their own questions by email to each of the proposers.

“Both expansion proposals are economical with the truth about increasing aircraft noise, increasing peak flying hours and increasing night flights.”

Public involvement: HALE is encouraging as many people as possible from the affected towns and villages in North Herts as well as Central Beds to post replies on our site so we can build a sense of solidarity and wide engagement. We are not a parochial group representing the concerns of just one community – we want as many local communities as possible to realise the likely impact on their quality of life and on their roads if these proposals succeed. Anyone who is genuinely concerned about the negative impact of continued expansion of Luton Airport is free to post.

“HALE’s website is an information sharing resource to be used by all the towns and villages which would be affected by further Luton Airport expansion.”

Media involvement: HALE works alongside other campaign groups such as LADACAN and LLATVCC to help raise media awareness of the growing opposition to Luton Airport expansion, and to set the story straight when the truth is concealed. We have appeared on Anglia TV, BBC Look East, 3 Counties Radio and Jack FM. National and local newspapers are picking up on the story and we provide links to the latest online articles and campaigns.

“HALE is helping to put the other side of the Luton expansion story in front of the media.”

Our motivation: HALE involves people who passionately believe that further expansion of Luton Airport is untenable given its location, and the already serious impact of noise and transport congestion on local communities. We all know how much of a bad neighbour this airport has been: flight trials running directly over communities, night flights which cut across local villages in the small hours with no control, noise which is increasing year by year because heavier aircraft are being introduced into the flight mix.

“The public is telling us that Luton Airport has been a really bad neighbour to local communities – it should have been doing a lot more to control its impact.”

Our proposals: HALE agrees with easyJet that Luton Airport should reinvest some of the money it makes to improve the passenger experience. Gridlocked access roads, long security check queues, tatty departure sheds, immigration queues right down the corridor all speak of an airport which is poorly run and not being managed for the benefit of its users. Sorting out these things would create jobs. We believe that other job-creating initiatives could be produced to attract inward investment and increase Luton’s prosperity rather than flogging the one asset. Diversification is far more likely to deliver a stable future than gambling on airport growth meeting out-of-date targets. That would be a far more valuable debate for LBC to initiate.

“We believe putting Luton’s economic eggs into one basket is not wise in an economy where true strength lies in diversity.”


Next steps and pointers to useful information:

1) For more background showing how Luton Airport is such a bad neighbour, click these links to have a look at our pages on increasing noiseflight trackspoor ecology and night flights.
2) For information on the futureLuToN consultation process and suggestions for questions we are concerned about see our pages on consultation experience and consultation questions
3) For information on the rival proposal from LLAOL see our pages on the rival plan and its impact summary



Comment from LADACAN on the ‘futureLuToN:Optimisation’ consultation:

Consultation? Unprofessional, inadequate and misleading

Now that the programme of exhibitions supporting Luton Borough Council’s consultation prior to a formal planning application to double its Airport’s throughput from 9 million passengers in 2010 to 18 million is over, it is time for us all to submit our responses before the 26th March deadline. Details can be found at the project web site ‘futureLuToN:Optimisation’.

The overwhelming feedback from the exhibitions and the web site is that the material available is inadequate and, in places, misleading. The staff manning the exhibitions were ill-informed about the local area and how aircraft operate, and were unable to answer the simplest of questions. Many visitors were promised answers later but have yet to receive them. At the exhibition in Breachwood Green, probably the community worst affected by noise after south Luton, no noise specialist was available!

Following this consultation, a planning application is expected in April when objections can be submitted to Luton Borough Council (LBC) prior to its decision as Planning Authority. We hope that this will be delayed while they make a serious attempt to answer our questions in the application or the accompanying environmental impact assessment (EIA).


This is the earlier consultation:

“futureLuToN:Optimisation” consultation on expanding Luton airport to 18 mppa

February 13, 2012    London Luton Airport Ltd, that owns the airport, has now launched its public consultation into expansion plans. The consultation (ends 26th March) is based on a few web pages of sketchy information and will include public exhibitions in village and community halls during February and March. They then plan to submit a planning application in April, expecting a decision by Luton Borough Council by Autumn 2012. The airport is operated by London Luton Airport Operations Limited on a 30 year concession (granted in 1998). The owner has the opportunity to terminate the current concession agreement from 2014. They want to increase passenger numbers from the current annual 9.5 million (in 2011, up to 18 million, while improving the passenger experience. This is what they call Optimisation. There is not one mention of climate change, or of carbon dioxide, in the entire proposal. They acknowledge there will be more noise, but there are no details and just thin, waffly assurances that everything possible will be done to minimise it.   Click here to view full story…  Extensive information at LADACAN.