Luton airport expansion expected to be approved at meeting

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A delayed decision on the expansion of London Luton Airport is expected to be made at a meeting on Friday.

The development control committee has been recommended to approve the application to increase passenger capacity from 12 million to 18 million a year.

Campaigners against the expansion have called the meeting “undemocratic” as it is taking place during the working day and they claim many people registered to speak were not informed of the new meeting date.

John Magill from Wigmore said: “It seems rather weird that this meeting is on the last Friday before Christmas at 10am. It’s not right. It makes it very difficult for the 70-odd people who were registered to speak at the meeting against the expansion to attend. It seems like the situation is being manipulated in favour of the council and the airport who are singing from the same hymn sheet.”

Mr Magill was due to go on holiday on Friday but is trying to rearrange it so he can still speak at the meeting.

The original meeting was deferred after Herts County Council demanded a second, impartial, legal opinion on Luton council’s suitability to make the decision, given its position.

Describing the delay until just before Christmas as ‘regrettable’, a council spokesman said: “Our role as a local planning authority is entirely separate to that as shareholder of London Luton Airport Ltd. Each is run wholly independently of each other. Government policy is for decisions on planning applications to be made locally wherever possible and this is normal practice for councils.”

In addition the council is also bound to seek authorisation from the Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government before approving the bid.

Luton Borough Council has received 455 objections and 43 representations in support of the application, which involves construction of a multi-storey car park, road layout changes and taxiway extensions.

A Luton Borough Council spokesperson said “The matter is being considered on Friday in order to avoid any further or undue delay. Representatives of third parties who responded to the statutory planning consultation have been invited to address the committee if they wish to do so. In order to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to this important process, it was therefore decided a daytime meeting is most appropriate.”