Plans to expand Luton Airport have been dubbed “reckless and irresponsible” as its owners launch a second consultation to gauge public opinion.
London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), whose majority shareholder is Luton Borough Council, plans to add a second terminal and increase annual passenger numbers to 32m by 2039.
Although LLAL is marketing the expansion as “sustainable, phased growth”, it has been criticised in the face of growing public awareness of climate change.
Andrew Lambourne, of Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, told the BBC that LLAL was “driven to maximise capacity for Luton, regardless of the environmental impact”.
He said: “What constrains Luton is that the terminal is small and compact; they cannot get passengers through quick enough.
“But the main subtext here is climate change. This is yet another reckless and irresponsible drive to increase flights when we need to do the opposite.”
LLAL has also proposed a third train station to extend from the Luton DART fast transit to Luton Airport Parkway station, plus highway improvements.
Robin Porter, CEO of Luton Borough Council, said the airport is a key driver for economic growth and prosperity in the region.
He said: “The proposed development would deliver enormous benefits, including an estimated 16,000 new jobs, with around a third of those directly employed at the airport. In Luton, airport growth would help the council deliver its ambitious goal to ensure no-one in Luton is living in poverty by 2040, and on a national level would deliver an annual £2 billion uplift to the UK economy.
“The proposal minimises impact on green belt, and will be delivered in line with robust targets set within Luton Council’s new net-zero carbon emissions pledge.”
Ciaran Scanlon, LLAL Programme Delivery Director, said actively managing environmental impacts is an absolute priority for the airport company.
He said: “We recognise that our proposals would bring impacts, for the environment and people who live and work nearby. That is why we are absolutely committed to bringing forward expansion with the highest standards of public interest and are setting out measures to tackle noise, climate change, air quality and travel to and from the airport.
“Our new sustainability strategy includes a range of challenging targets for both the short- and longer-term.”
The application will be examined by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate and a final decision made by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Full details of the consultation events are available now at www.futureluton.llal.org.uk with all planning documents on the website.
Your views can be provided online, by completing a paper feedback form, or by sending a letter or email. The consultation will close at 11.59pm on December 16.