Luton Airport is half-way through a 15-year expansion project which doubled its capacity to 18 million passengers but has failed to deliver the promised noise mitigations. Despite this, the Airport’s owners Luton Borough Council, led by Robin Porter, want to drive another massive increase in capacity to 32 million passengers. The “justification” is so they can make even more money at the expense of quality of life in local communities.
The proposed project is on such a massive scale – adding a second terminal on the site of Wigmore Park and spreading a toxic landfill site to create a foundation – that it counts as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project which has to be decided by the National Planning Inspectorate after submission of a formal Development Consent Order. The pre-application DCO went out to local consultation in 2019 and met very strong opposition from local people, campaign groups including LADACAN, and other local authorities. Our main concerns are that it would:
- cause 77,000 extra journeys a day on congested roads and rail services
- increase local pollution and contribution to climate change by over 50%
- add a further 80,000 flights a year to our already noisy and crowded skies
- create an airport far bigger than can reasonably be accommodated given its geographical context so close to so many rural communities
- create a situation of great financial risk for Luton Borough Council due to over-dependence on a presumption of continuous aviation growth
The project was originally costed at some £2.4 billion, for which an external investor would be required. Luton Borough Council has already started work on a DART monorail between the Parkway station and the Airport, at huge cost and financial risk running to hundreds of millions of pounds.
The latest developments are that Luton Council has now discovered it is virtually bankrupt due to the loss of revenue during Covid lockdown, and its Airport Holding Company LLAL has accepted that the feedback on its draft DCO exposed significant shortcomings on environmental issues. As a result, it has announced that the DCO will not be submitted in June 2020 after all, while reconsideration takes place.
LADACAN has highlighted that Ernst & Young, the external auditors to Luton Council, drew attention in 2019 to the significant financial investment risk in the Airport developments, and the lack of a process by which Members of the Council could review the investment decisions – largely made by LLAL. We have called for a governance review, since the way public money is being spent on the decision of a private board without public scrutiny or accountability seems highly questionable.
See this page for the detail of our objection document: LADACAN objection to DCO