Luton Airport expansion plan should be called in, say three local MPs
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has again been urged to call in the major expansion of Luton Airport. Harpenden MP Peter Lilley has repeated his plea for Mr Pickles to “objectively” consider the scheme, after Luton borough council controversially approved expansion of the airport, despite being its owner. On December 20, just 6 members of the council’s 11-strong development control committee turned up to a planning meeting where they agreed to nearly double passenger throughput to 18 million a year. Mr Lilley condemned the council’s decision to “sneak in the planning hearing just before Christmas” and said: “I have again written to the Secretary of State urging him to call in the planning application to ensure it receives proper consideration, which is seen to be objective. It is essential to make sure that any growth in throughput is made tolerable for those living near the airport and under the flight paths. There are concerns that concessions originally proposed by the operator have not been enshrined in the planning approval granted by Luton.” Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland and MP for North East Hertfordshire Oliver Heald, are also asking for the government to take the decision out of Luton Borough Council’s hands.
Luton Airport expansion plan should be called in, says Harpenden MP
January 6, 2014 (The Herts Advertiser)
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has again been urged to call in the major expansion of Luton Airport.
Harpenden MP Peter Lilley has repeated his plea for Mr Pickles to “objectively” consider the scheme, after Luton borough council controversially approved expansion of the airport, despite being its owner.
On December 20, just six members of the council’s 11-strong development control committee turned up to a planning meeting where they agreed to nearly double passenger throughput to 18 million a year.
The scheme includes construction of a new taxiway, and extension of the existing taxiway and car park buildings.
But Mr Lilley condemned the council’s decision to “sneak in the planning hearing just before Christmas”.
He added: “I have again written to the Secretary of State urging him to call in the planning application to ensure it receives proper consideration, which is seen to be objective.
“It is essential to make sure that any growth in throughput is made tolerable for those living near the airport and under the flight paths.
“There are concerns that concessions originally proposed by the operator have not been enshrined in the planning approval granted by Luton.”
Since the scheme was given the green light, local campaigners have exposed a “broken promise” over aircraft noise.
Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) co-founder Andrew Lambourne, of Flamstead, said whereas residents had been promised a reduction in night noise limits to 80dB by January 2015, to be dropped to 77dB thereafter, this had been omitted from conditions attached to the planning application, so the night noise limit would remain at its current 82dB level.
Andrew said: “This is an absolute scandal. One of the key adverse impacts of this expansion is the disproportionate increase in flights late at night and early in the morning.”
He said the six councillors at the committee meeting did not have the “courage” to defer acceptance to finalise adequate planning conditions.
HALE has echoed Mr Lilley’s request for the scheme to be called-in.
However airport operator London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) said it was “delighted” with the approval.
A spokesman said expansion of the airport would help open up new holiday destinations and that, once complete, would make passengers’ journeys quicker.
Action group critical of ‘expensive charade’ of Luton council meeting approving airport expansion
Date added: December 29, 2013
The controversial decision by Luton Borough Council to approve the expansion of Luton Airport has been widely criticised by community groups. Michael Nidd, secretary of the London Luton Airport Town and Village Community Committee (LLATVCC),has described the delayed, 8-hour meeting on 20th December, in which the decision was made as a “very, very expensive charade.” Only 6 of the development control committee’s 11 members attended the meeting, which had already been postponed. This came after Herts County Council demanded a second, impartial, legal opinion on Luton Borough Council’s suitability to make the decision, given it owns all of the shares in the airport. Michael Nidd said: “Only six of [the councillors] bothered to turn up, and we had hours and hours of very highly-paid people in the morning saying what a splendid scheme it is, but when it came time to debate, discuss and vote they spent as long as 10 minutes on it.” There is concern about the manner in which this decision, which has such colossal effects on all the surrounding communities, has been taken. Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning has written to Eric Pickles, to request that the decision be called in, due to the impacts on his constituency.
Luton campaigners expose ‘broken promise’ over aircraft noise at Luton
December 23, 2013
Luton campaign group, HALE, has exposed a broken promise at the heart of the planning conditions which are supposed to control future night noise from Luton Airport. A specific commitment made in the planning application, to reduce night noise limits to 80dB by January 2015 and thereafter to 77dB, has been omitted from the planning conditions attached to the recently passed planning application, so the night noise limit is set to stay at its current 82dB level. There is an overall planning condition to ban noisier classes of aircraft by an unspecified date some time between now and 2028, and to set overall noise limits by aircraft class. But the public consultation and the planning application both presented this “Quota Count” method as being in addition to a reduction in night noise limits, not a replacement for it. Commitments to reduce daytime noise limits are reflected by a planning condition with a definite timeframe, but the unconditional promise to reduce night-time noise limits to 80dB by January 2015 has been dropped. HALE say this is a scandal, and they have written to the Council insisting that the public commitments made by the airport to reduce the night noise limit by 1 January 2015 to 80dB, with a 5-yearly review to bring it down to 77dB, are both enshrined in the planning conditions. Click here to view full story…
A sad day for democracy as Luton Council approves Luton airport expansion
December 22, 2013
HALE have commented, on the hastily convened development control committee meeting on Luton airport’s expansion application, that it was a sad day for democracy. A 9-hour meeting ended by approving plans for doubling the capacity of Luton Airport from 9 million to 18 million passengers per annum. Only 5 voting members of the 11-strong development control committee were present, plus the chair. Objectors from local town and parish councils, campaign groups and private individuals voiced serious concerns about the proposals. These included number of late evening and early morning flights; reduction in quality of life due to aircraft noise; damage to health from noise and air pollution; and noise control, among others. Unfortunately none of the councillors had the courage to oppose the plans. Andrew Lambourne, from HALE, said: “Ultimately this was such a big decision that to make it with half the committee absent was simply not democratic – and is another good reason why it should be called in” he added. Click here to view full story…
Council backs Luton airport expansion but it needs Sec of State Eric Pickles’ authorisation
December 21, 2013
Luton Airport’s expansion bid to fly over eight million more passengers a year has been given the green light by its owner, Luton borough council. It was agreed to by just six members of the council’s 11-strong development control committee at the rescheduled meeting, which ended after eight hours. The scheme includes nearly doubling passenger throughput to 18 million people a year, which could mean 45,000 extra flights per year. It involves extending terminal and car park buildings, constructing a new parallel taxiway and extending aircraft parking aprons. However the approval must now be communicated to the Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles. On November 18th Luton council received a direction, under the Town and Country Planning Management Order 2010 not to grant permission without specific authorisation from him. This direction was issued to enable him to consider whether he should direct that the application be referred to him, under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Councillors at the meeting heard objections from residents and councillors from St Albans, Harpenden, Stevenage, Luton, Hitchin and Flamstead. People are very concerned the expansion would bring an unacceptable increase in noise and air pollution. The airport is proposing 60% more planes and many very late in the evening and very early in the morning. Click here to view full story…
The Comet has previously reported that an independent barrister has been appointed to review a planning application to expand Luton Airport, which was deferred last month but is due to be discussed tomorrow (Friday 20th December).
But now the Department for Communities and Local Government, on behalf of the secretary of state, has asked Luton Borough Council (LBC), which owns the facility through London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, to not grant the application permission at the meeting.
The directive has been issued to enable the secretary of state to consider whether the application should be referred to him for determination.
It does not prevent LBC from considering the application, which seeks to increase passenger capacity from 12 million to 18 million a year, but any decision is subject to the matter being called in by the Government.
On Tuesday 17th December, the Airports Commission, an independent panel asked by the government to look into potential expansion, released an interim report which shortlisted Heathrow and Gatwick for runways expansions, but not Luton.
The report does suggest the need for the Government to develop a strategy for motorway access to Luton, “with a particular view to examining the case for enhancements to M1 Junction 10A”. This was welcomed by London Luton Airport Operations Ltd.
The Comet, with Hitchin MP Peter Lilley, Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland and MP for North East Hertfordshire Oliver Heald, has campaigned for an independent review and for the Government to take the decision out of LBC’s hands.
Mr McPartland said: “The appointment of a QC is a welcome development, but Luton Borough Council should recognise that the decision on whether to expand the airport, which they own, should be taken by a fully independent body.
“I am pleased we have persuaded the government to issue an Article 25 notice, which means planning permission cannot be granted without the secretary of state’s permission. This is an important first step in having the planning application fully scrutinised by an independent body in a full public inquiry.”
Hertfordshire county councillor Richard Thake, who wrote to LBC outlining his concerns, requested the application be delayed from being taken to the planning control committee and asked the council to seek legal advice to confirm that LBC is the appropriate planning authority to determine the application.
Cllr Thake, who is also a member of North Herts District Council, said: “I have concerns over the ground access and the environmental impact. The report that was prepared for the previous planning meeting was quite frankly appalling and I raised concerns over that. I have written to LBC and told them my concerns and said that I think the application needs to be made by an independent person.”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Sharon Eckman added: “It would appear the delay may also be for them to consider how best to deal with the number of objections and level of concern shown by the local population.”
Directions by the Secretary of State
25. (1) The Secretary of State may give directions restricting the grant of permission by a local planning authority, either indefinitely or during such a period as may be specified in the directions, in respect of any development or in respect of development of any class so specified.
(2) The Secretary of State may give directions that development which is both of a description set out in Column 1 of the table in Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (descriptions of development and applicable thresholds and criteria for the purposes of the definition of “Schedule 2 development”)(31) and of a class described in the direction is EIA development for the purposes of those Regulations.
(3) A local planning authority shall deal with applications for planning permission for development to which a direction given under this article applies in such manner as to give effect to the direction.