Luton Airport expansion plan that could create 11k new jobs goes before planning inspectorate

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Open hearing to start five-day process to examine in council's airport company's application to expand London Luton Airport and increase passenger capacity

An application by London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) to expand its operations and create around 11,000 new jobs through a development consent order (DCO) is to be examined by the Planning Inspectorate this week.

Luton Borough Council’s airport company, trading as Luton Rising, submitted its DCO plans to increase passenger capacity over several years to 32m per annum from 18m.

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“A successful application would bring more investment and business activity to Luton, growing the local economy by more than £1bn,” the company said on its website.

The entrance to London Luton Airport. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)The entrance to London Luton Airport. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The entrance to London Luton Airport. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

“The project would produce millions of pounds of extra funding for the town’s charities, helping to transform thousands of lives in the local community.”

The controversial proposals involve expanding the airport terminal and building a second one as part of a long-term scheme, along with new taxiways and the bulldozing of Wigmore Valley Park.

No extra runway is planned, but other facilities will be provided including the New Century Park commercial development supporting 3,000 jobs, a Luton direct air-rail transit (DART) extension and a new access road from Airport Way.

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A five-day hearing to consider the evidence for and against this development is scheduled to start this evening. (Mon 27th) A DCO application is required for all nationally significant infrastructure projects, such as this.

“It forms part of the process introduced under the Planning Act (2008) to streamline the decision-making process for major infrastructure projects, making it fairer and faster for communities and applicants,” said a report to BLMK integrated care board (ICB) seeking its support in January.

The statutory consultation period regarding the development was completed in 2022. An environmental statement has been written to accompany the DCO, based on the findings of a preliminary environmental information report (PEIR) and the public engagement feedback.

The consultation documents include the green controlled growth (GCG) mechanism, which sets legally binding limits to ensure airport growth minimises the negative impacts on the planet.

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Plans by operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) to increase the airport’s passenger capacity from 18m to 19m a year and to amend the day and night noise contours were approved recently.

Both the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Secretary of State for Transport called in that application, agreeing a local inquiry should be held to review “all the relevant aspects of the project” before planning consent was granted.

A panel of inspectors considered several issues, including how the proposals meet the challenge of climate change, noise impact on health, air quality, sustainable transport and socio-economic implications.

This application by LLAL is also due to be considered by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in due course.

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The timetable starts with an open session, before a compulsory acquisition hearing tomorrow (November 28) and then moves on to consider specific topics.

These are environmental matters covering biodiversity, water, health and communities, noise, landscape and visual impacts, traffic and transport issues, and green controlled growth.

All the hearings are to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Butterfield Business Park in Stopsley.