Hearing begins into Luton Airport passenger capacity expansion to 32 million annually

Participants told decision imminent on rise from 18mppa to 19mppa
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A decision on whether the annual passenger capacity through London Luton Airport should rise to 19m is expected later this month, a meeting heard.

Operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) applied to increase the numbers from 18m to 19m along with changes to noise contours.

Two secretaries of state have the final say on the plans and are due to reveal their decision on or before Tuesday 22nd August, following a public inquiry last September.

Luton Airport  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Luton Airport  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Luton Airport (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

A preliminary hearing into proposals from London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), trading as Luton Rising, to further increase the capacity to 32m passengers per annum began today. (Thurs 10th)

Procedural issues were addressed during the session, which lasted for two hours in the Riverside Suite at Venue 360 in Luton.

During the course of proceedings, local resident John Smith raised concerns about the LLAOL proposals, saying: “As I understand it’s still with the government for approval, or not.

“What happens to that now?” he asked. “Is that just ditched?”

Dr Richard Hunt, from the planning inspectorate, replied: “We’re aware of that planning application and the inquiry which took place last year.

“But it’s a separate process to this, which will be considered individually. We’ll be keeping an eye on whether a decision is made on that and what its relevance to this application will be, if and when that is made during this process.”

Andrew Lambourne, who chairs local protest group Luton and District Association for the control of aircraft noise (LADACAN), said: “For information, those commitments have been made that a decision will be issued on or before August 22nd in relation to that (LLAOL) application. I think that understanding is shared by others.”

Project officer for Luton Borough Council David Gauntlett added: “The planning case work unit wrote to the applicant, the airport operator (LLAOL), advising them a decision would be issued on or before Tuesday August 22nd.

“It’s being determined by two secretaries of state, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Secretary of State for Transport.”

Today’s preliminary hearing will be followed by open hearings tonight (Thurs 10th) and tomorrow morning also at the Gipsy Lane venue.

Dr Hunt said: “We absolutely recognise the need for the expansion is one of the principle matters we need to consider.

“It’s set out as an overarching principle issue. We’ve listed what we consider at this stage to be the potential adverse effects on the environment and living conditions, which could weigh against this.

“We haven’t listed our intention to consider relevant policy context and other publications, which may also turn out to be important and relevant in the consideration of this item.”

As well as opposition groups, several local authorities are represented at the hearing, including Luton Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Buckinghamshire County Council and North Herts District Council.

The planning inspectorate examination of the development consent order (DCO) for the application by the borough council’s airport company (LLAL) is expected to close on February 10th 2024.