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London Luton Airport expansion plans questioned

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Concerns about plans to expand London Luton Airport have been raised by St Albans City and District Council.

The Council has approached three organisations to voice their reservations and ask for more information about the impact of the proposals.

London Luton Airport is looking for permission to increase passenger numbers by one million a year to 19 million.

It has indicated it will apply later this year for a further expansion to 32 million a year, doubling the current numbers.

The Council has highlighted the increase in carbon emissions that would result from the expansion in a letter to the Environmental Health Department of Luton Borough Council (LBC).

The letter points out that LBC is committed to tackling the climate emergency and cutting harmful emissions.

However, the Council says this policy pledge conflicts with the increase in emissions from more flights and extra road traffic that would be generated by more passengers.

Furthermore, the letter states the airport’s management admits it can only directly affect 3% of emissions associated with the airport with the other 97% being outside of its control.

The letter calls on LBC, which owns the airport, to ensure there is “a comprehensive and realistic action plan for reducing all emissions relating to the airport and use of the airport which meets the needs of the climate emergency”.

The Council has also approached the Department of Transport and called on the Government “to prioritise accelerating the reduction in climate damaging emissions rather than growth in passenger and flight numbers”. 

Its letter says more work should be done on reducing the environmental impact of aviation if the Government is to achieve its goal of making the country carbon neutral by 2050.

The Government is also urged to reduce aircraft noise in the District caused by flights to and from Luton by implementing a new airspace strategy.

Network Rail has also been approached by the Council in regard to the impact a new rail freight deport at Radlett may have on Luton Parkway station which serves the airport.

The Council would like to see airport passengers make more use of train services from London and the north rather than roads to access the airport, although it does not want the District’s own commuters to be negatively impacted.

In its letter to Network Rail, the Council says a reduction in trains to Luton Parkway caused by the depot “would clearly be a significant blow to efforts to encourage a step change in how people access the airport”.

The Council has asked for more information about this issue especially for peak travelling times.

The concerns were raised following recommendations made by the Council’s Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Chris White, Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate, Environment and Transport, and Councillor Annie Brewster, the Committee’s Chair, are the signatories to the Council’s letters.

Cllr White said: “The expansion planned by London Luton Airport is highly significant and has the potential to have an adverse effect on our District.

“We are not opposed to economic development, but it has to meet the environmental needs of the whole community and the major challenge of our times is clearly tackling climate change.

“The airport’s expansion plans would be a major blow to that ambition as it would lead to more flights, more congested roads, more air and noise pollution. The airport just does not appear to have a credible plan to counter that.

“We have pointed this out to Luton Borough Council and the Government and will be interested to see their responses.

Cllr Brewster said: “My Committee was unanimous in putting forward recommendations to deal with concerns our residents have about the impact the airport has on their lives. 

“Damaging consequences to the environment and our residents’ health are already unacceptable and now we are faced with plans for unacceptable expansions.

“We feel that Luton Borough Council and the Government needs to make the reduction of emissions a priority for the aviation sector over increasing passenger numbers. 

“Expansion plans should be shelved until Government has revised its post-Brexit and post-pandemic aviation policy. We also want to see the airport develop an action plan to reduce current noise and emissions. This should take into account emissions not just from aircraft, but from the considerable traffic that the airport generates in our District.”

Councillor contact:
CLLR Chris White, Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate, Environment and Transport, Email:
Tel: 01727 845300.

Cllr Annie Brewster, Chair of Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee: 01438 832255,

Media contact: John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer: 01727-819533;