Environmental Issues

The Environment Group has a wide remit ranging from maintaining a close connection with LADACAN,  the residents’ group concerned with the impact of an ever-expanding Luton Airport,  to pressing Local Authorities into maintaining the pleasant ambiance we expect (and pay for!). For some time, this ‘Group’ has been a ‘one-man band’ but we would welcome others to join,  not only to widen the area occasionally visited (ideally walked by),  from the Southdown/High Street area of the present incumbent,  but also to broaden our concern into e.g. the use of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) to preserve a particular view or setting.

In parallel with the above, there are actions individual members can take, as outlined in a recent newsletter and repeated below (and for simplicity, mainly only phone numbers are given so all have access & to simplify, hopefully,  explanation of the problem  -  but best to avoid Monday mornings):

   -   for overflowing litter bins, which so obviously give an uncared for impression of any community:  if outside the immediate High Street/Leyton Road/Station Road shopping area (which is the responsibility of the Town Council, Tel. 768278), then phone SADC’s contractor, Veolia on 01727- 809019;  similarly for uncollected or dumped bags of refuse.

   -  for weed-filled or silted up gutters, which again can make a residential area look unkempt, again ring Veolia  -  though to be fair, there’s no point in them spraying the weeds during unsettled weather as the weedkiller needs a day or two of dry conditions to have an effect and then typically takes another 2 or 3 weeks (so, be patient!)

   -  in contrast, blocked drains, which can lead to large puddles in the road, of obvious hazard to passing pedestrians, and/or cause floods lower down a hill, are the responsibility of Herts County Council, and you should  ring 0300-123-4047 (or e-mail their website) and get a Job no. so you can follow it up if necessary.   Not surprisingly,  with the large  -  and pleasing  -  number of trees in the area, combined with the effect of grit from the road itself,  this is a recurring problem and a more frequent check would seem sensible and worth pressing for.

Finally,  some unsightliness is outside the various Councils’ responsibilities,  such as the often scruffy appearance of unoccupied premises, which may be waiting Planning Permission,  where the owners would need to be contacted;  or Network Rail regarding litter in Station Approach.

Society's response to the February 2021 Consultation can be downloaded by clicking here.

Annual Report 19/20

Any community can quickly look uncared for if the local authority fails in its duty to council tax payers by allowing litter bins to overflow, gutter drains to get blocked and other maintenance-reliant issues to arise. Alas, our local public services continue to fall short of most residents’ quite reasonable expectations. And the Harpenden Society duly encourages its members to maintain a watchdog role by reporting matters to the relevant authority. Herts County Council (phone 01300 123 4047) is responsible for highway matters (notably potholes and streetlighting faults – though these can also be reported on-line via the Herts CC website).

 

Other publicly-accountable environmental shortcomings should be reported to the SADC/Veolia St Albans District call centre on 01727 809019.

 

Any review of environmental issues in Harpenden must, of necessity, include Luton Airport and its iniquitous plans for a further near-80% growth in passenger numbers. The concomitant increase in frequency of flights and  accompanying noise disturbance, along with the inevitable rise in aircraft and road vehicle climate-change and pollutant emissions locally, make the expansion totally unacceptable.

 

The Harpenden Society has accordingly registered its unequivocal opposition, in alignment with residents groups such as LADACAN.

 

John Davis

Luton Airport Expansion

Background

London Luton Airport (LLA) is situated 7 miles north of Harpenden town centre on the southern edge of Luton. It has grown rapidly in recent years: passenger numbers were 6.2 million in 2000, 8.7 million in 2010 and 18.0 million in 2019. Whilst the airport is easily accessible to Harpenden residents, its growth in recent years has resulted in a significant increase in the downsides associated with airports, namely aircraft noise, air pollution, clogged up local transport networks and, of primary importance presently, climate wrecking CO2 emissions.

Furthermore, because Luton Borough Council (LBC) is conflicted, it both owns the airport (and therefore has a financial interest in its success) and is the planning authority for the airport, the explosive growth in the last decade has resulted in planning conditions that were put in place to safeguard local communities being breached and no enforcement action taken. For example, the LBC planning permission for growth to 18million passengers was conditional upon staging expansion over a period to 2028 which allowed for quieter and lower emission aircraft to be introduced. However, LLA took no notice, and the 18million limit was achieved in 2019.  

The Society’s Strategy

Strategically, the Society is fully supportive of the Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) “Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy 2020” which includes “clean air for all by 2030” yet would be impossible to achieve should LLA expansion plans be realised. Against this background, the Society, working with Bim Afolami MP, local campaigning groups and government agencies, principally the county and district councils, engages with the airport operating company London Luton Airport Operations Lit (LLAOL) and LBC  to try to enforce planning conditions and ensure its future plans don’t damage our community. Even to delay the process is positive for Harpenden as it allows for the introduction of quieter, lower emissions aircraft.

Local campaigning groups include:

Harpenden Sky http://harpendensky.com/

LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) https://ladacan.org/

Current situation

Presently, there is one live planning application before LBC and four consultations at various stages of completion.

Open planning applications

Application to vary condition 10 of planning permission 15/00950/VARCON

This planning application is intended to regularise breaches of planning conditions established when the airport was granted permission to grow to 18 million passengers by 2028. The planning conditions were put in place to ensure that those places most exposed to increasing aircraft noise as the airport grew would benefit from strict limits on the number of aircraft that could fly and from increasing use of more modern quieter aircraft. These planning conditions have been systematically breached by the airport for the last three years (and no enforcement action has been taken). The planning application seeks to set aside these conditions at least until 2024. Currently, this application is awaiting a decision by LBC. The Society and all other local community groups, Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council have strongly objected to this planning application. It has not been considered by LBC  yet and is now expected to be rolled into the planning application below to increase passenger numbers to 19 million per annum.

Open consultations

October 2020 Changes to London Luton Airport Arrivals

This consultation outlines a proposal to separate the Luton and Stansted airport arrival flightpaths. Presently, Luton and Stansted airport arrivals share the same arrivals routes and the same holds. Whilst the proposed separated arrivals flightpaths go over central Bedfordshire, this consultation is relevant to Harpenden residents as includes dispersed or concentrated flightpath options. A concentrated flightpath is similar to the flightpath that was implemented between Harpenden and St Albans in 2016 which has resulted in all westerly departures heading towards eastern Europe following a narrow flight path, which means those within 2km of the flight path hear every aircraft, rather than intermittent aircraft noise as was previously the case with dispersed flightpaths.

Further information about this consultation can be found here: https://consultations.airspacechange.co.uk/london-luton-airport/ad6_luton_arrivals/

An helpful analysis of the consultation can be found on the LADACAN website here: https://ladacan.org/consultation-on-arrivals-flight-paths/

The closing date for the consultation is 5 February 2021.

The Society will be responding to the consultation in due course.

October 2020 ICCAN’s emerging view on the future of aviation noise management

ICCAN was created in January 2019, as an impartial, non-statutory body to rebuild trust between airports and their communities.

ICCAN has produced a document which can be accessed here:

https://iccan.gov.uk/future-aviation-noise-management/

which outlines ICCAN’s emerging view on the future of aviation noise management, as well as their vision and goals over the next three years. 

ICCAN is seeking your feedback on this document via a survey that can be accessed through the link above.  The closing date for this consultation is 18 December2020.

The Society will be responding to this consultation in due course.

Recently closed consultations

February 2019 Luton Borough Council as owner of London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) “FutureLuToN”

This consultation outlines the airport owners plans to grow annual passenger numbers from 18 million to 32 million. The original consultation has closed and LLAL [an LBC owned company] has advised that it is considering the feedback and plans to submit a Development Consent Order to the government in 2021. The Society and all other local community groups, Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council have strongly objected to this proposal, given the detrimental effect such growth will have on our climate and local communities.

The December 2020 Supreme Court decision to allow Heathrow Airport to apply for planning permission for a third runway has consequences for LLA insofar as Ministers have been advised by their Climate Change Committee colleagues that in order to keep emissions within latest Government policy commitments including Net-Zero, then Heathrow should only expand if regional airports contract.

There is also the conundrum that the Heathrow third runway planning application will now dictate the pace, so we need to ensure LLA is unable to advance their development consent application to the Planning Inspectorate until the Heathrow third runway status is decided. This position is several years away and not aided by Heathrow having disbanded their third runway team and a simultaneous plan by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to modernise flight paths across the south of England (FASI-S). This delay again will allow for 100s of quieter, lower emissions aircraft to be introduced.  

November 2020 London Luton Airport Operations Limited as operator of the airport pre-consultation on increasing passenger numbers to 19 million

This consultation (which has also closed) outlines the LLA plans to ask LBC l to increase the number of passengers travelling through the airport annually to 19 million in the short-term. In addition, the airport operator is seeking to have the planning conditions referred to above set aside and new weaker noise conditions introduced which would mean noise levels wouldn’t reduce until 2027, at the earliest.

As above, the Society and all other local community groups, Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council have strongly objected to this proposal, not least because there’s no evidence that passenger numbers will even return to their pre-Covid-19 level (18 million) for the foreseeable future and because of the proposal to weaken the existing noise conditions. This LLA application would, if successful, lead to another c8,000 flights per annum intruding into Harpenden airspace.

Further information

If you require further information about the airport please email environment@harpendensociety.org