Luton Council approves plans for Luton to increase from 18 to 19 mppa

In February, Luton airport submitted a planning application to Luton Borough Council (its owner) to increase the annual cap on passenger throughput from 18m to 19mppa. Also to expand the day and night noise contours by 11.3% and 15.3% respectively until 2028. Now Luton Borough Council has approved the plan to increase to 19 million – and the plans to change the noise contours, to the huge disappointment of many local groups already negatively affected by aircraft noise. The Council said this application did not affect the airport’s long term proposals to increase capacity to 32 million per year, which would be determined by government, through a DCO, not the council. The airport is owned by a company that has changed its name to Luton Rising – and that is owned by Luton Council.  How well the airport will do in future years is unknown, with the impact of Covid, targets for aviation to become “carbon neutral” and growing awareness of the climate impact of air travel.  Luton’s passenger numbers dropped almost 70% between 2019 and 2020 due to Covid. 


London Luton Airport plans for 1m more passengers approved


Plans to allow one million more passengers through the UK’s fifth busiest airport have been approved by councillors.  The cap on annual numbers is rising to 19 million.

London Luton Airport would be able to handle 19 million people a year, up from 18 million, the local council, which owns the airport, said.

Amendments to the current noise contours were also approved.

Opponents said the airport was already failing to meet conditions and this would mean even more flights and noise.

Earlier this year, the council’s company London Luton Airport Ltd, which owns the airport, became Luton Rising to avoid confusion with London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, a separate private consortium which runs the airport day to day.

Luton Borough Council said the planning application had come from the airport operator following a consultation and not Luton Rising, and the council’s development management committee had granted planning permission “subject to conditions and a legal agreement”.

The decision had taken into account the authority’s “local plan and national planning policy and guidance, and other material considerations”, it added.

The authority also said the application did not affect [Luton Rising’s] long term proposals to increase capacity of the airport to 32 million per year, which would be determined by government, not the council.

The council also approved amendments to the current noise contours, which measure how many people are affected by noise from the airport.

Passenger numbers dropped almost 70% between 2019 and 2020 due to the pandemic.

Bill Sellicks, from Hitchin Forum, told the meeting the group’s members often walked or cycled in the area to the east of the airport’s runway and were concerned about the noise impact.

He had urged the committee to reject the plans, saying it would “expose more people to dangerous levels of noise and would result in increased carbon emissions”.

Groups including Harpenden Sky, St Albans Aircraft Noise Defence (Stand), Harpenden Society and St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS) also opposed the plans.

Stop Low Flights from Luton said: “People living in this area accept there is an airport nearby but we don’t accept that the airport has carte blanche to disregard its planning conditions and impose an increase in noise burden on our communities.”

Jane Timmis, Conservative Dacorum Borough councillor for Watling ward, said there was no need for the airport to expand further “especially in light of recent pandemic and catastrophic climate change effects”.

She said there should not be an expansion to the “detriment of not only Luton residents but also to a large number of Hertfordshire residents”.


See earlier:

Luton airport continuing to be a financial drain (maybe £550 million+) to owners Luton Council

In the last few days, the company (owned by Luton Borough Council) that owns Luton Airport, has changed its name from London Luton Airport Ltd, to “Luton Rising”. That will be its trading name. The company that operates the airport is London Luton Airport Operations.  London Luton Airport Operations has obtained agreement from Luton Rising that it can retain £45 million over three years.  This will support the airport’s recovery from the pandemic.  The money would have been paid by the operator to Luton Rising (ie. the council) if it had not been for the impact of Covid reducing passengers and flights. Luton council usually, pre-Covid, made a good profit from the airport, but that has now been reversed. The Council in 2019 receiving a £19.1m, and £15.8m servicing debt.  In September 2020 there was a £60m loan by Luton Borough Council to its airport company and it was expected that another £23 million would be paid. Then in June 2021 Luton Council loaned a further £119m to the airport. Now this is another £45 million, over three years. The airport is not looking like a great investment for the council …

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Luton scaling back airport expansion plans, delaying 2nd terminal, to save £1 billion

Luton Airport, which is owned by Luton council, is planning to scale back its expansion plans in order to save perhaps £1 billion.  In 2019 the airport consulted on plans for a new terminal that would enable the annual number of passengers to be increased from 18 million to 21 million by 2039. There will now be a new consultation, later in 2021 or in 2022, for initially improvement of the existing terminal, and then eventually a second terminal, at some future date. The airport’s finances have been seriously hit by Covid. The Council benefitted greatly from the airport (before Covid), in 2019 receiving a £19.1m, and £15.8m servicing debt. In 2020 the airport had huge public subsidy, and more will follow for 2021. Local campaigners will be looking very carefully at what might emerge from proposals for further passenger growth using the existing terminal. This might be by creative use of “permitted developments” which Luton Borough Council could approve on its own. If such growth could accommodate more than an additional 5 million passengers per year (taking Luton to 23Mppa) it would then become possible for the declared ambition to reach 32Mppa to be achievable without need for a DCO, as below the 10 Mppa threshold.

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Feb 18th – deadline for comments on application by Luton airport to increase passenger cap from 18m to 19mppa

Luton Airport has submitted a planning application (21/00031/VARCON) to Luton Borough Council to increase the annual cap on passenger throughput by 5.5% from 18m to 19mppa. Also to expand the day and night noise contours by 11.3% and 15.3% respectively until 2028, when they would be reduced somewhat, but still a net growth from today’s levels. Annual plane movements are forecast to grow by no more than 0.8%. The deadline for responses is February 18th. The airport is arguing that more larger planes means that the extra passengers can be accommodated without a huge increase in plane numbers. They also claim the anticipated new planes will be less noisy and emit less carbon … (’twas ever thus…) These wonderful planes or technologies don’t yet exist. The motivation for the increase in the passenger number cap has been rising demand, before the Covid pandemic struck. Future air traffic demand is uncertain.  The “elephant in the room” is  the conflict of interest of Luton Borough Council being both the planning authority and the owner of the airport.  But Hertfordshire County Council is set to formally object to the plans, largely on grounds of noise nuisance.

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London Luton Airport: Consultation into moving holding area from Herts to Cambs

Map of the plans
Planes bound for Luton currently share their in flight “holding” area (the brown oblongs) with Stansted and proposes to create a new one in Cambridgeshire (blue oblong) 

A public consultation to help determine new arrival routes for flights into London Luton Airport has started.  The airport currently shares arrival routes and airborne holding areas with Stansted in Essex, with a key position above Royston in Hertfordshire.  The proposed new holding area would be above the A1 between Alconbury and St Neots in Cambridgeshire. Luton and Stansted currently use zones above Royston, and above Sudbury in Suffolk, at about 8,000ft. The proposed changes would create a new holding area for Luton arrivals, to ensure that operations for Luton and Stansted do not have an impact on each other. For more information check out the consultation website.  This consultation runs until 5 February 2021.

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