Luton plans to increase passenger capacity to be heard at Luton council meeting on 20th December

Plans to increase capacity at Luton Airport will be heard at a council meeting on 20th December. The meeting had been due for 21st November, but was postponed. The 10am meeting will be open to the public to attend. The application would effectively allow an increase in passengers of 10 million, so it should be regarded as an Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and therefore referred to the Secretary of State, and not determined by the local council. The plans are not for any new runway capacity but road improvements, a new mult-storey car park, car park extensions, terminal improvements and extensions, and more taxi-ways and aircraft parking – enabling more planes and more passengers.Local campaign, HALE, says the reason for the hurry is that the the planning application expires on 27th December.  As well as the NSIP issue, the other key area of disagreement is a lack of clarity relating to the noise levels governing the airport. Luton Borough Council has not justified the basis for its interpretation of the 1999 noise levels. This means that governance of the noise environment around Luton remains open to question and lack of clarity.


Planning Committee 20th December

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Luton Borough Council has reconvened the Development Control Committee Meeting to vote on the future of the airport. Its planning officers have recommended acceptance of plans which will double its passenger capacity and increase flights by 60%.

The public meeting will be held on Friday 20th December 2013 at 10:00 in the Council Chamber at Luton Town Hall. People who are concerned by these proposals, and who wish to draw attention to the noise, traffic and pollution impacts of expansion, and the need for stringent controls, may request a 5-minute slot to speak at the meeting.

To register to speak, contact the Development Control Committee Administrator on 01582 546032, or write to them at Luton Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ. The deadline for registration is 5pm on Wednesday 18th December.

The meeting will consider, on planning grounds, the proposals by Luton Airport’s operating company LLAOL for works including alterations to Airport Way, infill extensions and alterations to terminal buildings, extensions to existing mid and long term car parks, a new taxiway and extensions to the existing taxiway and aircraft parking aprons and stands, and a new multi-storey car park linked to the terminal building.

The effect of these works will be to increase the capacity of the airport, and the operator projects that the number of passengers carried per annum will increase from 10 million to 18 million by 2028, with a corresponding 58% increase in flights from 99,000 to 157,000 per year. It foresees a significant increase in flights during the early morning and late evening periods, with a projected doubling of flights between 10pm and midnight and early morning departures starting before 6am. It envisages an almost doubling of the number of dwellings within the ”aircraft noise footprint” day and night.

The “mitigations” proposed by the operators – including so-called caps on numbers of flights – have been shown by independent noise consultants and campaign group experts to be likely to have little impact on controlling noise, and far more stringent planning controls in the form of a tough section 106 agreement would be required.

The papers relevant to the meeting can be downloaded from LBC’s website by clicking the following link: Planning meeting papers

For background on some of the more contentious issues, see Best laid plans



Best laid plans?

(Updated 14 Dec 2013)

Two crucial areas of disagreement lie at the heart of the process to determine the Luton Airport planning application. The first is whether the project counts as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (in which case it must be referred to the Secretary of State); the second is a lack of clarity relating to the noise levels governing the airport.

Legislation defining whether an airport expansion project counts as an NSIP appears to be clear: if the work would deliver capability to handle more than an extra 10 million passengers per year then the project is an NSIP and must be referred to the Secretary of State.

In the case of Luton’s expansion project, the airport operators LLAOL used a capacity report by Leigh Fisher to argue in their planning application that capacity would not be increased by more than 10 million. Luton Borough Council (LBC) commissioned a report from Chris Smith Aviation Consultancy which appeared to support this view. However, analysis of these reports by experts from LADACAN indicates that these analyses assumed similar traffic patterns to now and did not really assess the capability to deliver 10 million extra passengers per year. In their view, the infrastructure changes would definitely result in additional capability above 10 million passengers per year.

LBC has obtained the opinion of a QC on this issue. The QC argues the plans do not amount to an NSIP because there would be a planning restriction limiting capacity to 18 million passengers per year. However, campaigners argue that (a) this restriction could be lifted at some future date, making the application retrospectively an NSIP, and (b) the restriction cannot be applied until after planning permission is granted, whereas the decision re whether it is an NSIP has to be made before the application is determined.

The QC also argues that the application does not constitute an NSIP because he has seen no evidence to suggest that it is. This implies that LBC failed to pass on to him the expert analysis produced by LADACAN showing that the application does indeed class as an NSIP. For these reasons campaigners say that proceeding as if this is not an NSIP puts the applicant on very shaky ground indeed.

The second key issue is noise levels. LBC’s local plan LLA1 states that the airport may be developed provided that noise does not exceed 1999 levels. However, there is an  argument over precisely which 1999 levels were intended to act as the benchmark. On the one hand, the planning application appears to be working on the basis of 1999 levels which were predicted in 1997, whereas campaigners point out that the wording of the policy and planning inspector’s report would indicate that the actual 1999 levels should be used. These were substantially lower, particularly at night, due to a change in the mix of the aircraft fleet which occurred after the original predictions were made.

LBC commissioned a noise report from Cole Jarman which acknowledges that the 1999 levels are open to interpretation, and a letter from Cole Jarman to LBC clearly states that the decision as to how to interpret the confusion over 1999 noise levels is not a technical matter but one for the Council. Despite a formal request from LADACAN’s lawyer, the Council has not justified the basis for its interpretation of the 1999 noise levels. This means that governance of the noise environment around Luton remains open to question and lack of clarity.

Deficiencies identified in the issued planning documents appear now to have been rectified, and the documents can be downloaded from the LBC website at this link.

The planning meeting is to be held on 20th Dec at 10:00 in Luton Town Hall – anyone wishing to speak must register by 17:00 on 18th Dec by phoning 01582 546032.



Why the unholy rush? Because the planning application expires on 27th December!

HALE represents people who believe that the capacity of Luton Airport should not be expanded any further: “enough is enough”. Luton Airport already flies around 10 million passengers per annum, and operates 100,000 flights each year. Because its location is surrounded by towns and rural villages, the impact of aircraft noise is significant, and is worsening year on year. Trains cannot serve the terminal directly because it is on a hill, so most passengers use cars and taxis, which adds to the crowding on local roads and on the already busy M1.

Due to the position of county boundaries, Luton Airport is an a small promontory of south Bedfordshire which juts down into north Hertfordshire. The airport is owned by Luton Borough Council, which receives significant revenue from the operating concession. However, the low-level arriving and departing flights fly over the towns and villages of north Hertfordshire, which do not receive any direct income from Luton Borough Council. It could be said that Hertfordshire gets the pain, while Luton gets the gain – although noise from arriving and departing flights does affect south Luton.

Commercially, the airport is owned by London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) which itself is owned by Luton Borough Council. Various Luton Borough Councillors (including people on the Development Control Committee which oversees planning decisions in Luton) act as directors of this company. The operating concession is held by London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) whose major shareholder is Spanish infrastructure group AENA. Essentially Luton Airport is run as a business asset to make money for Luton.

Although the airport runs consultative groups with representation from local councils and campaign organisation, these groups have no jurisdiction over it and no means by which to compel the airport operators to make decisions. The communities impacted by noise, pollution and traffic are represented at committee discussions, but can do little otherwise to change their lot – and often what is an improvement for one community makes matters worse for another.




Luton Airport plans to increase passenger capacity to be heard at Luton council meeting next week

11.12.2013 (Luton and Dunstable Express)

PLANS to increase capacity at Luton Airport will be heard at a council meeting next week.

Luton council said the airport’s proposals to increase its capacity from 12 million to 18 million passengers a year will be discussed on December 20. It will take place in the council chamber at the town hall at 10am and is open to the public to attend.

A council spokesman said representatives of third parties who responded to the planning consultation have been invited to address the committee.

The proposed scheme involves:
– Dualling of the road from the Holiday Inn roundabout to the central terminal area
– Improvements to the public transport hub next to the terminal
– Construction of a multi-storey car par and pedestrian link to the western side of the existing short-term car park
– Extensions to the mid- and long-term car parks
– Improvements to the terminal building involving internal reorganisation and minor extensions and building works
– Construction of a new pier
– Construction of a new taxiway parallel to Taxiway Delta
– Taxiway extensions and rationalising of the aircraft parking area, including new and improved stands.


.The Council planning documents are at

The agenda item on the airpors says: “That subject to the decision of the Secretary of State under Article 25 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010 planning permission be granted subject to” various conditions.

Controls over operations
10. At no time shall the passenger throughput of the airport exceed 18 million
passengers in any twelve month period. From the date of this permission
the applicant shall every quarter report in writing to the Local Planning
Authority the moving annual total numbers of passengers through the
airport (arrivals plus departures). The report shall be made no later than
28 days after the end of each quarter to which the data relates.
Reason: To enable the Local Planning Authority to exercise proper control
over the development, in the interests of securing a satisfactory operation
of the development and to safeguard the amenities of the surrounding
area. To accord with the objectives of Policy LP1 of the Luton Local Plan
and the National Planning Policy Framework.

and there is a long section (many pages) on Noise conditions.





Unresolved issues on noise and NSIP status delay Luton Airport planning application

November 25, 2013

The planning application for expansion at Luton airport remains unresolved. There was due have been a meeting of the Luton Borough Council Development Control committee to specifically debate the matter on 21st November, but this was cancelled. Two crucial issues remain unresolved. The first is whether the project counts as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (in which case it must be referred to the Secretary of State); the second is an apparent ambiguity on noise levels. Legislation is clear in defining whether an airport expansion project counts as an NSIP: if the work would deliver capability to handle more than an extra 10 million passengers/ year. It appears that the plans would indeed result in the capability to deliver 10 million/year. There is current argument about which set of noise levels in 1999 should be used as the baseline level. Luton Borough Council has postponed the planning meeting and engaged a QC to review the NSIP issue. It may also be the Commissioner for Local Government might issue a holding direction preventing LBC from granting planning permission – even though the application can still go to the committee.  Click here to view full story…

Meeting deferred, with no future date suggested.


Luton Airport planning application recommended for consent by Luton Borough Council for 21st November meeting (now postponed)

November 15, 2013

Luton Borough Council’s Development Control Committee will be discussing the application for expansion at Luton airport, at a special meeting on 21st November. The officer recommendation is that they approve the application, with various conditions. One of the conditions is that: “At no time shall the passenger throughput of the airport exceed 18 million passengers per annum unless express consent is obtained from the Local Planning Authority.” It also says: “Before any part of the development hereby permitted is commenced, a day to day noise control scheme shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority which sets out the proposals for ensuring that individual aircraft noise impact from the Airport’s operation is reduced as far as is practicable in the light of development to facilitate 18 mppa.” ie. a degree of wishful thinking on noise controls. Local campaigners are arguing that the expansion is likely to increase the annual number of passengers by over 10 million. That would mean the application should be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, which the Planning Act 2008 requires to be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, not the local council.