Luton Airport Expansion Inquiry
As members who are participating in the Luton Airport Expansion Inquiry will know, the 22nd August was the deadline for the submission of Interested Parties detailed concerns about Luton Rising’s airport expansion proposals.
The Society’s submission covered the following areas: climate change, noise, the need for the development and the funding position.
On climate change the Society proposed that, if the development is given the go ahead, it can only begin on the basis of the terms proposed by the Committee on Climate Change (in their report to Parliament 28 June 2023), i.e. “No airport expansions should proceed until a UK-wide capacity management framework is in place to annually assess and, if required, control sector greenhouse gas emissions and non-CO2 effects. A framework should be operational by the end of 2024. After a framework is developed, there should be no net airport expansion unless the carbon-intensity of aviation is outperforming the Government's emissions reduction pathway and can accommodate the additional demand.” The recent headlines re: the impact of climate change on ordinary lives serves to remind us that we have to redouble our efforts to tackle increasing global temperatures. Stopping aviation expansion, which otherwise would increase its emissions up to 2050, is a sensible and measured step.
On noise, the Society demonstrated that Luton Rising’s expansion plans will not see any reduction in the noise that communities suffer presently over the course of the development and beyond as Luton Rising’s proposed noise limits will remain at a higher level than the long term noise limits agreed when the airport’s application to grow to 18 million passengers per annum was approved. We believe the Inspectors should require Luton Rising to achieve, at a minimum, the long term noise limits previously agreed and also pass an equal share of engine technology benefits to affected communities.
Finally, the Society emphasised that the development is highly speculative, with few economic benefits to offset the clear environmental harms and there is no evidence to suggest that either Luton Rising or Luton Borough Council can fund the development or that a third party investor is willing to underwrite the development, except, possibly, on terms that will undermine the social benefits that Luton Rising is claiming the development will provide to Luton.
The detailed examination will now begin with a number of Issue Specific Hearings taking place in September, after which the Examining Authority will issue a series of questions to Luton Rising and other parties. At this stage we will get a clearer idea of the key concerns of the Examiners. The Society will continue to reinforce its position throughout the Inquiry, at every opportunity.
Letter to the Herts Advertiser about parking in Harpenden's Amenbury Lane Car Park - 5th October, 2023
Dear Sirs. Re. Car parking fiasco in Harpenden’s Rothamsted Park.
Over the last few days, we have received a number of complaints from our members concerning the 27 parking spaces in the Amenbury Lane car park suddenly taken out of public use and reserved for Leisure Centre staff members only. To add insult to injury, these reserved spaces are positioned immediately inside the carpark entrance.
Parking in Harpenden town centre is a serious problem, and the Amenbury Lane
facility, whilst shared with the Leisure Centre and the EMC, is a critical asset. The removal of the 30 spaces by St Albans District Council will inevitably have an impact on the town's retail sector, and sends a message to the town centre's workforce that the Council has given preference to a limited number of its service providers.
It is also annoying to see that so far, only around a third of these spaces have been in use over the last few days, so c.18 spaces are being denied to local residents and visitors to the town.
Surely there are less obvious ways of giving the staff access to the carpark if it is a contractual obligation - windscreen stickers come to mind. And quite candidly, if there are no spaces available at the time Leisure Centre and EMC staff members arrive, then they should have to face the parking problem just like other shop and office workers in the town, and park in surrounding streets.
To the Society, it would appear to a SADC political own goal.....and an insult to town
Chair, The Harpenden Society
Controversial plans to axe station ticket offices
Controversial plans to axe the ticket office at Harpenden’s train station need to be seriously reconsidered to protect this public service.
Infrequent train users in Harpenden could be in for a shock if ThamesLink proceed with the closure of the Harpenden ticket office along with their other ticket offices in the region.
Without the helpful ticket office staff many travellers will be confronted with the complications of using the ticket machines outside the station. OR trying to book on line via a home computer or smart phone.
Certain ticket fares are unavailable on the machines at the station like those requiring long and complicated journeys with multiple tickets. Plus booking tickets ahead of the travel day can be complicated. That’s why staff at the ticket office can be so helpful and need to be retained.
Our MP Bim Afolami is totally opposed to the closure and has set up a campaign to garner support.
Society chair Jeff Phillips said:
"This loss of this public service could have an adverse effect on elderly residents and those with disabilities and needs to be seriously reconsidered. We will be joining Bim’s campaign by completing the form on his web site."
Click below to add your views.
Transport - Looking back
During 2022 the Society attended the Public Inquiry into Luton Airport’s proposed expansion to 19 million passengers per annum (mppa) and argued that application was unjustified as the economic benefits were minimal and insufficient to offset the clear costs associated with increased carbon emissions and relaxed noise limits. The Inquiry Inspectors report has not been published yet but we expect it to appear very soon.
Separately, Luton Rising, the Luton Borough Council company that owns the airport freehold carried out a second (post-Covid) consultation on its plans to expand the airport from 18mppa to 32mppa. The Society’s response to the consultation echoed those of local government and other campaign groups, highlighting the lack of detail in some key areas such as measures to mitigate climate change, toxic gases and noise and the absence of a strategy for getting passengers to and from the airport. The Society also questioned the viability of Luton’s expansion plans.
Locally, St Albans District Council (SADC) carried out a parking survey which attracted over 3,000 responses (a high response rate). Subsequently, SADC issued a new parking strategy designed to tackle climate change, improve enforcement and make the best use of available parking space, improve access to services and make good use of digital technology. Some obvious measures mentioned in the strategy to address climate change included discouraging engine idling and charging for parking permits according to vehicle emissions. Nothing concrete was offered re: enforcement despite problems with parking inconsiderately (e.g. across dropped curbs and on yellow lines) being the two most popular responses to the survey. Charges, of course, will be going up to “ensure the best use of available parking space”. The Society was among many local residents who questioned the (subsequently rescinded) decision to charge leisure users and the proposal to extend the charging period for key car parks into the evening (which is being implemented). In relation to the latter, it appears that short term budgetary pressures overrode the need to encourage use of the car parks rather than residential streets for evening parking.
There was a welcome proposal from Herts County Council (supported by the railway companies) to redevelop Station Approach and Station Road from the high street to the railway bridge. The Society supports the proposals but would like to see a broader scheme put in place that addresses the bottleneck at the entrance to the east of the railway bridge opposite Carlton Road.
Very recently, SADC has conducted a survey on its proposals to encourage local walking and cycling. Again, the Society welcomed the proposals but questioned whether some of the proposals were likely to deliver any tangible benefits.
Other areas that we addressed in 2022 included:
Luton flightpaths (no progress in 2022 as Luton Airport waited for other airports to reach the same stage)
The Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit running from just south of St Albans to Stansted Airport (public consultation closed January 2022 – findings expect to be reported spring 2023 – Harpenden is not expected to be served directly by this transit system).
2023 will, again, be dominated by Luton Airport’s expansion plans. Very recently, despite widespread concerns that the two statutory consultations were deficient, the Planning Inspectorate has accepted Luton Rising’s application to expand the airport from 18mppa to 32mppa for examination. The examination is expected to take place over the summer and autumn of 2023. The Society will submit written evidence and may be invited to appear at the public Examination. As with the 19mppa application, we will highlight the climate change impact, the increase in toxic gases and noise and the surface access difficulties that expansion will bring to our community. We will argue that this application is unwarranted.
Following a recent meeting we’ve had (alongside HarpendenSky) with Luton Airport’s operator, it’s possible, because other airports are a long way behind, the operator will consult on revised flight path proposals that can be implemented without affecting other airports. The Society will continue to monitor the position and will inform members as soon as there is clarity over the operator’s plans.
We will continue to press SADC on local parking. We are concerned that SADC’s strategy is weak so far as anti-social parking is concerned (and the practical evidence is that what limited enforcement activity is taking place is having no discernible effect).
We will continue to monitor the proposed Station Road improvements and the local walking and cycling initiative.
Luton Town Hall from Sept 27th - Nov 17 2022
Battle plans for the future short term expansion of London Luton’s Airport begins in Luton Council Chambers. The Airport will be represented by James Strachan KC with a team of advisors and witnesses. The Local Planning Authority will be represented by John Steel KC. Leading the opposition for LADACAN will be Richard Wald KC with a team of advisors and witnesses.
Several local groups including the Harpenden Society have also expressed their opposition.
All parties will be presenting their case to a panel of three Inspectors from The Planning Inspectorate. This will last for a gruelling six weeks. After a month or more the inspectors will report their findings to The Planning Inspectorate who will ensure that all legal requirements have been covered and if positive will confirm the decision to announce their decision to The Secretary of State for the Environment. A date for public announcement will then be made. Likely to be April 2023.
If you want to see the documents being used during the inquiry, click here.
If you wish to know exactly what is happening the inquiry will be live streamed. Contact here to find out how.
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.
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.
LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) https://ladacan.org/
Presently, there is one live planning application before LBC and four consultations at various stages of completion.
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.
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:
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.
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.
If you require further information about the airport please email firstname.lastname@example.org