Campaign groups criticise Luton Airport’s bid to ignore noise planning condition

London Luton Airport Terminal exterior. Photo by London Luton Airport
London Luton Airport Terminal exterior. Photo by London Luton Airport

Luton Airport has applied to Luton Council’s planning department for permission to temporarily ignore a noise planning condition designed to control its overall noise footprint.

LADACAN and other groups concerned with the planning application by London Luton Airport Operations Limited to vary condition 10 of planning permission 15/00950/VARCON for a temporary period (to the end of 2024) to enable the area enclosed by the 57dB(A) daytime noise contour to increase 19.4 sq km to 23.4 sq km, and the area enclosed by the 48dB(A) night time noise contour to increase from 37.2 sq km to 44.1 sq km.

The campaign groups want the airport to respect the planning conditions which were laid down in 2013 as part of a balanced package of growth and mitigation.

Andrew Lambourne, speaking for members of the residents’ group LADACAN, said “People locally are utterly fed up with the ever-growing impact of Luton aircraft noise on their lives.

“Planning Conditions were set by Luton Council in December 2013 to regulate the expansion, yet the airport seems to think it can just apply for them to be set aside whenever it wishes.

“This demonstrates a fundamental contempt for the planning system, which is supposed to achieve a balance between corporate benefit and protection for people on the ground.”

Noise expert Paul Flatt has slammed as the Airport’s claim that a 1dB LAeq change in a noise contour is ‘negligible’.

He said: “Breaching a noise contour limit by that amount means you are flying a lot more noisier planes than you are supposed to.

“The limit was set for a reason: they need to respect it.”

Neil Thompson, Operations Director, London Luton Airport: “London Luton Airport already operates with some of the most stringent noise control measures of any major UK airport, which includes a limit on the number of night flights and a ban on the noisiest types of aircraft.

“We fully comply with all of these conditions, with the exception of our noise footprint measurement which was based on forecasts made in 2012, predicting a slower rate of passenger growth, along with the quicker introduction of the newest types of quieter aircraft.

“Therefore we are seeking a temporary variation of this one condition to allow us to operate at current levels.

“Technical experts have estimated that there will be no more than a 1db increase in current noise levels and as part of our mitigation plans, we will double the funding of our noise insulation scheme.

“There is a risk, without this temporary change, that the airport’s significant economic contribution would be affected and could even lead to a loss of jobs.”

A spokesman for Luton Council said: “The council has received an application from the operator of London Luton Airport (LLAOL) to temporarily vary condition 10 relating to the airport’s consented growth to 18 million passengers per year, approved in 2014.

“The council’s role as local planning authority is entirely separate to that as shareholder of London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL).

“Each is run wholly independently of each other, with their respective functions entirely separate. The application will be subject to statutory consultation undertaken by the council as the local planning authority and dealt with impartially, fairly and transparently.

“A decision will be reached based on all material planning considerations and sound judgements, supported by clear planning reasons.”