Luton Airport expansion 'seems a pretty distant dream' says councillor as air quality report resurfaces

A Labour councillor will ask party colleagues to reconsider after largely rejecting the findings of an air quality report around Luton Airport.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 12:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 12:14 pm

The council's executive decided to accept only four of 19 recommendations made to it by a specialist task and finish group.

Liberal Democrat Crawley councillor Terry Keens told the council's overview and scrutiny board: "The report went to the executive and wasn't treated with as much seriousness as it should have been.

"Labour Challney councillor Tom Shaw picked out bits and pieces and everyone agreed with him.

Luton Airport

Most of the air pollution locally comes from traffic travelling to and from the airport, according to the investigation.

Labour Farley councillor Dave Taylor said: "I wasn't at the executive when this was presented.

"The motivation was for the airport expansion, which seems a pretty distant dream by now.

"All of our recommendations are perfectly valid. We took lots of evidence from people.

"To accuse the executive of dismissing it is unfair. If the report was accepted it's also taken responsibility."

But Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks insisted: "The executive didn't accept the report.

"It accepted four of the many recommendations and effectively dismissed the others."

Councillor Taylor responded: "If all of our recommendations weren't accepted, what was the point of us doing this scrutiny report?

"It should be represented to the executive to ask whether it accepts the report contents?"

Councillor Taylor vowed to take up the issue with council leadership.

Liberal Democrat Wigmore councillor Diane Moles said: "Eunice Lewis and councillor Keens put a tremendous report together.

"A lot of the people condemning this haven't read it thoroughly."

The investigation acknowledged that airports contribute to localised air quality issues as well.

The group asked the local authority to source funds to help deliver its conclusions, and called for an annual report to the board on air quality around the airport.

Councillor Keens added: "I'm not sure what these task and finish groups are supposed to do.

"I've been on two now and both of them have been virtually ignored.

"It seems to be a branch to hang something on and stop you discussing it properly elsewhere."

Corporate director customer and commercial Nicola Monk said: "Scrutiny task and finish groups are set up for a really important reason around policy development. They've got huge value."