Luton airport expansion plans for 18mppa given decisive “thumbs down” on environmental grounds

Luton Airport’s owner (Luton Borough Council) and operator (London Luton Airport Operations Ltd) have together announced they are set to submit plans to increase capacity to allow for a maximum of 18 million passengers per year, from current levels of around 10 million. The reasons put forward by Luton Borough Council  for these proposals centre around creating wealth, and they hope it would allow the airport to “continue to deliver sustainable growth” benefiting residents and passengers”. The local campaign group HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion), which opposes further expansion at  the airport, commented that Luton Borough Council in only interested in milking the airport for cash, and talk of “sustainable” airport growth is an oxymoron. Another local campaign group, LADACAN (Luton & District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) criticised the absence of any mention of the environmental impact of increased aircraft noise, which would inevitably be a result of a flight leaving every 90 seconds – resulting in continuous noise over people’s heads starting at 6 am in the morning. Public consultation on the plans is scheduled to start on Sept 3rd.




(HALE – Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion)

Luton Airport owner and operator have announced they are set to submit plans to increase capacity to allow for a maximum of 18 million passengers per year, from current levels of around 10 million. The reasons put forward by Luton Borough Councillor Robin Harris for these proposals centre around creating wealth: “Given London Luton Airport’s position as the single biggest asset owned by the people of Luton, this agreement and its potential benefits for wealth in the region’s economy are momentous.”

Managing Director of LLAOL, Glyn Jones, said the agreement would allow it to “continue to deliver sustainable growth, developing the airport in a positive way for partners, residents and passengers”.

Responding to the announcement, Andrew Lambourne of campaign group HALE which opposes further expansion at Luton Airport said “These plans clearly demonstrate that all Luton Borough Council in interested in is milking the airport for cash – and any pretence by Glyn Jones that such growth is sustainable is transparently nonsense. Sustainability is about using natural resources more slowly than nature can replenish them in order to avoid environmental damage, not hastening the pace of depletion of fossil fuel and further increasing the massive carbon footprint of Luton Airport.”

Lambourne points out that the government’s own DirectGov website makes the following very clear statements in the section entitled “Air travel and greener holidays”:

“Air travel is a growing contributor to climate change and can have an impact on local traffic emissions and noise. You can help reduce your impact on the environment by choosing to travel by air less. In 2006, air travel accounted for 6.4 per cent of the UK’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas causing climate change. Forecasts suggest that this could grow. If no action is taken, carbon dioxide emissions from aviation could make up around 10% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions by 2020.

 consider video or teleconferencing, instead of flying to business meetings
 think about taking a holiday within the UK
 taking one longer holiday will have a lower impact than going on several short trips if you are flying each time

When making journeys in the UK, and even internationally, there is often the option of getting there without flying.

“We would be interested to see how Luton Airport presents an Environmental Impact Assessment that claims to follow these guidelines, and echoes the clear concerns expressed by making a genuine commitment to reducing its overall carbon footprint including air operations, in a sustainable way. We also look forward to the airport owners and operators coming out into the community to engage first-hand with local people who have had enough of their noise pollution” concluded Lambourne.


HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion) is a campaign group committed to opposing plans to expand Luton Airport which will export further noise and pollution to Hertfordshire. It represents communities all around the airport.





A special meeting of the Luton Airport Consultative Committee on 13.8.2012 was told that the pre-application public consultation on the operator’s expansion plans is to be launched on 3rd September. Yet again, this is to be styled a “Master Plan”. 




(LADACAN – Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise)

LADACAN was represented at the London Luton Airport Consultative Committee meeting yesterday when Glyn Jones, MD of Luton Airport Operators LLAOL, presented the new combined plan for airport expansion to LLACC members.

The presentation confirmed the aim to increase capacity to 18 million passengers per annum – though Mr Jones denied that the eventual objective was to reach 30 million.

Investment in new infrastructure such as extended taxiways to deliver the aircraft directly to the ends of the runway would allow the frequency of departures to be increased, with a focus on the popular early morning period between 6am and 9am when flights could leave every 90 seconds.

In a brief reference to environmental issues Mr Jones described plans to reduce carbon emissions of ground based operations, but did not allude to the impact of increased carbon emissions from some 100 extra flights per day.

The environmental impact of increased aircraft noise was not mentioned.

Although extolling the key drivers as including financial benefits, he declined to indicate how much the proposed changes would cost to implement, however the project to improve junction 10a had already received funding. Passengers would be encouraged to use public transport, but traffic flow impact studies of what is believed to be some additional 6,000 passenger journeys per day were still “in progress”.

Attention was drawn to the planned terminal enhancements to improve the passenger experience within the very compact site, and the plans to increase the amount of parking available. In summary Mr Jones said he wanted the airport to be “the best neighbour possible”.

Commenting on the proposals, John Davis of LADACAN said  “It’s unbelievable that the most serious impact of these proposals – namely significantly increased noise over local communities around the airport – was not even mentioned. A flight leaving every 90 seconds would result in continuous noise over people’s heads starting at 6 o’clock in the morning – hardly the actions of a good neighbour. Likewise trumpeting carbon reductions in ground based operations, while completely overlooking the carbon impact of substantially increasing the number of planes, insults the intelligence of local people who are already concerned about the pollution being generated. We oppose any further expansion on the grounds that Luton Airport is quite simply in the wrong place – it’s on a hill, surrounded by towns and villages, and already creates severe noise intrusion on those people unfortunate enough to be its neighbours.”

John Davis also called on the operators and owners to include in the planning application a clear ceiling on capacity due to the previous master plan floated by Luton Borough Council which clearly talked of increasing capacity to 30 million passengers per annum.

Other attendees raised concerns: Cllr Bernard Lloyd (HCC, Harpenden) felt that the aspirations to increase the proportion of passengers using public transport were unrealistic, and also called for night flight restrictions.

Michael Holden (Breachwood Green Society) was vociferous on the issue of “intersection takeoffs” where a plan joins the runway part-way along and then takes off directly, shifting the noise further down towards communities near the ends of the runways.

Public consultation on the plans is scheduled to start on Sep 3rd, though it is still not clear if there will be presentations to affected local communities at which people can question first-hand the airport owners and operators.



LADACAN (Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) is a residents’ group primarily concerned with the impact of Luton Airport on the surrounding communities.

The objects of the Association are:

a) to abolish the noise nuisance emanating from Luton Airport, whether in take off, landing, flight or ground testing.
b) to press for all necessary safety precautions.
c) to prevent increased operation and further development of Luton Airport as an airport, taking all constitutional measures to achieve this aim.
LADACAN was formed in 1968 and made history in 2005 by successfully challenging the White Paper, The Future of Air Transport, in the High Court.