Airport says green growth proposals are 'groundbreaking' as it showcases 32 million passengers blueprint

'Environmental limits go far beyond any airport application in this country has gone before'

By Euan Duncan
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 11:15 am
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2022, 11:16 am

Future growth has to grind to a halt if strict environmental limits are breached, as London Luton Airport looks to expand towards 32m passengers a year.

The stringent measures are part of the documentation contained in Future Luton, a blueprint for the borough council's airport company Luton Rising's expansion plans to make best use of the current runway.

"Luton has shown it has a propensity to recover quicker than other airports," according to programme director for the development consent order Antony Aldridge.

Airport consultation event in St Albans

"It did that last summer and is showing signs of rapid recovery this year," he explained, speaking at the St Albans consultation event on Tuesday (March 22). "For the scale of demand we predict, we don't see that's possible to accommodate in the current terminal and would require another in the mid-2030s.

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"We can deal with the demand now, perhaps with a little growth in the current terminal during the next decade.

"What we're showing in this proposal is expansion for the busiest period of the day which would equate to 21.5m passengers a year, if the airlines use the same business model.

Airport consultation event in St Albans

"If there was a slight change in that model and we spread the peak periods a little, that could grow to 23m which we've sensitivity tested in here.

"Our green controlled growth proposals are groundbreaking. This is something we're putting forward voluntarily.

"They go far beyond any airport application in this country has gone before in setting out in statute hard environmental limits which we won't be allowed to breach. If we do, growth has to stop.

"There are clear commercial constraints enshrined in legislation, all monitored by a new independent body to be established through the process," he said. "Traffic congestion is addressed by the green controlled growth, so there'll be an absolute limit.

Airport consultation event in St Albans

"By the time we reach 32m passengers, there must be a minimum of 45 per cent of people arriving at the airport by public transport. If we can't provide such a plan, the document allowing the airport to grow to that level won't be approved.

"The Luton DART investment is a key part of that and makes the rail offer more attractive. Air quality is another measure within the green controlled growth proposals.

"Our assessments suggest even when we reach 32m passengers a year there's no noticeable air quality difference from our project. There'll be legally binding and independently measured limits on air quality.

"Across the three counties area we're talking about something around £1bn gross value added to the local economy on an annual basis," he added.

"There are the social benefits as well. And our community first proposal says we'll put £1 into a fund for every growth passenger beyond 18m or 19m depending on the cap.

"Ultimately that would be £32m a year to be purely focused on tackling local pockets of deprivation or decarbonisation projects in Luton and the three counties area."

Speaking for a coalition of six environmental groups at the St Albans event, Yvonne Hall warned: "Luton Rising has had to borrow around £500m from the council to bail it out.

"The council and taxpayers are giving money to the airport company at present, rather than Luton Rising and flights making money for the people of the town.

"The statistics speak for themselves. There's a slight increase in passenger travel, but nowhere back to pre-pandemic levels and no data which suggests a return to those levels or an increase.

"Electric planes are a long way off. We've no idea if and when they'll exist, or what they would be like. It's pie in the sky."