Luton airport planning application submitted – to demands that it should be called in

Luton airport has submitted its planning application for expansion up to 18 million passengers, to its local authority, Luton Borough Council.  However, Luton Borough Council is also the owner of the airport, and so local people are asking that the application should be called in.  The application does not include a runway extension, but does include changes to taxiways,  access roads, parking aprons, car parks and changes and extensions to terminal buildings. The work proposed is focused primarily on removing the bottlenecks which affect throughput of passengers and planes at peak times. By dualling the access roads and increasing the security check lanes, passengers can arrive and be processed more quickly. By extending the taxiways and adding more piers, planes can be filled up can get into position for takeoff more quickly. And by adding more customs and baggage reclaim facilities, arriving passengers can be moved more rapidly through the terminal. There are 250 documents in the application, making it difficult for local people to assess. The consultation period ends on 18th February. There is local concern about the amount of extra aircraft noise there will be, if Luton is allowed such significant expansion. There are also serious concerns about road congestion – currently about 80% of the airport’s passengers travel to it by road.



7th January 2013

Planning application received from London Luton Airport Operations Ltd

Luton airport

London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL), the airport operator,  submitted a planning application to Luton Borough Council [the airport’s owner] on 7th January 2013.

The Council’s Development Control Division has confirmed that the application is now valid and the consultation period can commence on this planning application.

The works proposed in the application are all contained within the existing boundary of the airport and include:

  • alterations to the access to the airport from Airport Way/Airport approach road
  • infill extensions and alterations to the terminal buildings
  • extensions to the mid-term and long-term car parks
  • construction of a new taxiway parallel to the existing Delta taxiway
  • extensions to the existing Alpha taxiway parallel to the runway
  • extensions to existing aircraft parking aprons to provide six new stands
  • new multi-storey car park, to be linked to the terminal building

Follow this link to view the application documents under application number 12/01400.

[They should appear on this page. These are the Associated documents ]

The first document to look at is the Summary of the Application (24 pages).

Paper copies of the application will also be made available to view at Luton’s Central and Wigmore libraries, as well as the Town Hall.

The consultation period for the application will run until 18 February 2013 and comments can be submitted:

  • by post to Development Control, Luton Borough Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ
  • by email to
  • or online at the above web address.

No date has been set for when the application will be considered by the Council’s Development Control Committee.

The key documents for the communities around the Airport are the 82 making up the Environmental Statement (ES).



Planning application is an NSIP


The work being proposed at Luton Airport is focused primarily on removing the bottlenecks which affect throughput of passengers and planes at peak times. By dualling the access roads and increasing the security check lanes, passengers can arrive and be processed more quickly. By extending the taxiways and adding more piers, planes can be filled up can get into position for takeoff more quickly. And by adding more customs and baggage reclaim facilities, arriving passengers can be moved more rapidly through the terminal.

All of these measures, coupled with the expected trend to larger planes, will mean that the passenger capacity of the airport will increase significantly. By definition, any planning application which increases the capacity of an airport by more than 10 million passengers per annum constitutes a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, and must be referred to the Secretary State for determination.

In Luton’s case, a detailed throughput report was produced last year by consultants Leigh Fisher, and based on these figures and on the proposed works, it’s not difficult to show that the removal of the bottlenecks would increase capacity by more than 10 million passengers per year, in which case the planning application should not have been submitted to Luton Borough Council but to the Planning Inspectorate overseen by Eric Pickles.



The planning application submitted by Luton Airport operators proposes changes which would double the capacity of the airport to 18 million passengers per year by removing existing constraints on the throughput of passengers and aircraft. To those in the aviation industry this sounds great, but people living near airports are now far less inclined to put up with the downsides. Some of the big negatives would be:

More cars:
We estimate that by 2030 the net effect would be an extra 16,000 passenger journeys per day, which allowing for additional airport staff could add some 10-15,000 cars per day onto already crowded and pot-hole ridden local roads. The local rail services are already at capacity at peak times, with standing room only from St Albans to London as it is.

More planes:
The airport expects an extra 58,000 flights per year by 2030, on top of the 99,000 in 2011, ie 60% more planes would be flying over local communities. Because the airlines using Luton want to turn their planes around as many times a day as possible, flights are not spread evenly. There is a morning peak, which would start even earlier, lunchtime and and afternoon peaks, and a late night arrivals peak. Each of these peaks would get busier – eventually by 160 extra flights per day.

More noise:
The airline industry has devised a way of representing noise by “contours” which average the noise over a 16-hour period. In that way they can claim “hardly any difference to the contours” when adding very significant numbers of extra flights. 160 extra flights per day would make it very much noisier, even if a handful of the very noisiest planes are deterred by the so-called noise mitigations.

More night flights:
The plans allow for an increase in night flights, and for flying to start even earlier at 05:00 in the morning. This is a key antisocial feature of what is being proposed, since sleep deprivation has been clearly linked to medical problems, and local people made it very clear during the 2011 consultations that they regard more night flights as simply unacceptable. The “night noise quota” has been set at 30% higher than current night noise levels, indicating significantly more night noise is expected.

More pollution:
Planes burn fuel most rapidly when taking off and flying at low level. Because Luton has to share the local airspace with Heathrow arrivals (Bovingdon stack near Hemel) and northerly departures, Luton departures are held low for an extended period until they can weave in between Heathrow traffic, and this is desperately inefficient and polluting, as well as adding to the noise burden.

Less jobs:
80% of the flights from Luton take people overseas for holidays or family visits, and only 20% are business-related. So arguments that this airport is bringing jobs to the UK economy do not wash, because holiday flights take people overseas to spend money rather than them spending it in the UK, and the net effect is to export jobs. The balance of payments deficit of £12bn in 2011 from the travel industry says it all.

Who benefits?

Well, Luton Airport is owned by Luton Borough Council, which is paid some £23 million each year by the airport operating company. Homes and offices in South Luton are overflown and affected by noise, but elsewhere Luton is fairly clear of the downside, happy to reap the benefits of reduced Council Tax and extra amenities while exporting the noise and pollution into Hertfordshire.




The airport does not attempt to make it easy to understand the application.  There are 250 documents in total. Many of the documents are drawings of the proposed building work.

The Summary of the Application (24 pages) sets out the basic information, and is the document to look at first.

Below are a few items from the Summary:

Luton vision

Luton projections to 2031

Luton proposals

Luton proposed map

For anyone currently troubled by noise from Luton airport, the vague and general proposals on Page 18 may give little reassurance.





Luton Airport expansion could ‘gridlock’ St Albans roads

by Debbie White

January 18, 2013 (Herts Advertiser)
FURTHER traffic gridlock on St Albans roads would ensue should Luton Airport get the go-ahead for a major expansion, a campaigner in Wheathampstead has cautioned.

Judy Shardlow, who lives in the village, criticised the airport’s scheme to double passenger numbers to 18 million a year, saying Luton’s planning application traffic impact assessment was “flawed”.

Campaigners throughout the district are urging residents to join the growing battle against Luton Airport’s bid, with the Herts Advertiser backing their fight to protect our skies by launching an online petition.

Judy said the airport’s scheme, open to consultation until February 18, “takes no account of, or responsibility for, the traffic impacts beyond the immediate vicinity of the airport”.

Currently about 80% of the airport’s 9.5 million passengers travel to it by car, taxi or bus.

Its scheme explains traffic flows around the immediate access junctions to the airport but no mapping has been done to assess the affect on the Harpenden and Wheathampstead sections of the Luton Road (A1081) and Lower Luton Road (B653).

Judy asked: “Does Luton Airport just expect that cars materialise at its boundary and not cause major gridlock on the wider east/west Hertfordshire roads? Or that potential traffic volumes on these roads is ‘someone else’s problem’?”

She went on: “Currently just 17.2% of passengers arrive by train. The rest arrive by car, taxi or bus, using roads in Herts including the A1081 and B653.

“Luton Airport hasn’t done the maths of just how many cars are travelling on Hertfordshire roads to get to the airport because they might be held partly accountable for the ruinous state of many of the roads that lead directly to the airport.

“The volume of traffic and poor state of these roads is already an issue and growth plans will have a significant and detrimental impact on Herts’ already creaking infrastructure.

“Hertfordshire residents will bear the financial burden of damage to our roads as well as the damage to our quality of life caused by gridlocked roads.”

She has urged residents to lobby St Albans district council and MP for Hitchin and Harpenden Peter Lilley to have the scheme called in for independent determination by the Planning Inspectorate.

However the MP for St Albans Anne Main has recently received a reply from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Planning) Nick Boles to her request for the expansion to be referred to Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles.

Mr Boles said it was up to Luton borough council to consider the proposal and decide whether it needed referring to Mr Pickles for it to be called in.

He added that while Mr Pickles could decide to call in the application for his own decision regardless of whether the application is formally referred to him or not, he only did so “where issues of national importance arise”.


To comment on the scheme go to (application number 12/01400 )



London Luton Airport – Planning Application for expansion to 18 Million Passengers

Luton Borough Council have now received a planning application from London Luton Airport Operations to nearly double the number of passengers & flights from its current circa 10 Million Passengers Per Annum (MPPA)The application is now open to public consultation and the full documentation can be viewed here. The Planning Application number is 12/01400

The application is for significant changes to the infrastructure within the current boundary of the airport. Major changes to surface access are proposed along with new taxi-ways which will increase the capacity of the airport.

However this is an opportunity to apply strict controls on night flights as they have at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

We would also want to see some of the significant financial gain accruing to Luton shared with those who suffer most of the pain.

I have objected to the plan on the basis of inadequate controls proposed to mitigate the environmental impact such a huge increase in traffic will inevitably have and inadequate surface / traffic improvements.