Anger in Herts, Hunts and Cambs over Luton arrivals noise


Residents across a wide area north and east of Luton Airport are growing increasingly angry about aircraft noise. In February 2022, a change was made to the flight arrivals procedure at Luton Airport. Rather than heading for a holding area over Royston, shared with Stansted, and then being directed towards the Luton runway, incoming planes now fly further north towards a new holding stack over Grafham Water in Huntingdonshire. From there they make their way back down south towards either the Leighton Buzzard area or Letchworth, and onwards to line up on the runway.

Since this change was made, many people in Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire have started to notice Luton aircraft and flight noise, where they were not affected before. Many did not even know that the “airspace design” had been changed. Groups such as ALAS (Against Luton Airport Stack) and RELAS (Reject Luton Airport Stacking) were set up to represent and inform those who felt that the consultation had been inadequate. Villages in Hertfordshire are also getting more noise as the aircraft now fly north over them to assemble and then south again to come in to land.

Airspace change such as this is governed by the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA oversees a complex multi-stage process called CAP1616 which the “sponsors” of airspace change proposals (in this case Luton Airport working with the National Air Traffic Services, NATS) must follow. Community representatives are involved with the process – and in the case of this arrivals change, LADACAN was involved and made strong criticism of the quality of consultation material.

Normally such a change is reviewed a year after being implemented, but because of the number of new complainants, it has been decided to extend the period during which the sponsor must collect and collate feedback and complaints. These are then passed on to the CAA for a formal Post Implementation Review. The current stage of this process is shown on the CAA’s Airspace Change Portal which says “Stage 7, gathering feedback, has been extended until 22 Sep 2023”.

What to do if you are affected

If you live in the area between Bury St Edmunds and Bedford, passing across Cambridge and Huntingdon, you may be affected by this change – the potentially affected locations are on this map on the CAA website. Areas south of that around Letchworth and towards Leighton Buzzard are also affected. Not only are people reporting aircraft where there were none before, but there are many reports of the aircraft making strange howling noises and waking people at night. If you experience this kind of wailing noise, reducing in tone and followed by the sound of an aircraft engine, let us know using LADACAN’s email address

If you live in the affected area and are now disturbed by the noise of aircraft where there were none before 2022, then do use the period between now and 22nd September to let the Airport Operator know. You should email giving your name and postcode, the date and time of the disturbance, and describe the problem and the effect it has on your quality of life. Those who want to see the flight tracks can search online for “Luton Airport Travis” and use their Track Visualisation system to replay the flights passing over a given location on a specified day and time during the previous few weeks.

Also do get in touch with one of the local groups mentioned above, and consider joining LADACAN – we represent people all over the local area affected by the noise of the Airport, and attend the regular consultative committee meetings and noise & track meetings. If there are any other groups or representatives in the affected area, let us know and we’ll post your contact details here also.