Government calls in Luton Airport expansion plan

The government has responded to calls by LADACAN, backed by local MPS, Council and other community groups, to call in Luton Borough Council’s controversial decision last December to set aside the noise and growth limits it had placed on Luton Airport expansion. Experts from the national Planning Inspectorate will now independently review the decision, which would have legitimised a 3-year breach of noise limits cause by unbalanced over-rapid growth.

In its decision letter, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities cites concerns over climate change, policies for enhancing the natural environment, and the local development plan which was to be set aside to allow more airport growth. We welcome the decision because it will provide an opportunity for the national Planning Inspectorate to review what many regard as a conflicted situation in which the Council derives significant revenue from the Airport, but is also responsible for planning decisions which affect its environmental impacts on the whole local area.

LADACAN highlighted that decisions made by Luton Council concerning Luton Airport are potentially unsafe due to the clear conflict of interest. The Airport operator agreed to planning limits knowing they were due to last until 2028, and then promptly ignored them. The Council failed adequately to monitor what was going on, and rather than enforcing the limits invited the operator to apply to have them set aside, and then agreed to legitimise the breach.

As a result of the unbalanced growth, people living all around Luton Airport had to put up with far more noise, pollution and traffic congestion than they should have done between 2017 and 2019, and they deserve justice. We are really grateful for the support from local MPs, Councils and other groups to get this iniquitous decision called in.

What happens next?

Objections made when the proposals for 19 million passengers and bigger noise limits were consulted on last year will be carried forward to the inquiry. Latest information can be found on the government planning website at this link and searching on case number 3296455. Anyone wishing to add to their previous comments can use the “Make representation” button on the case summary page. The deadline for further comments is 23 May 2022.

LADACAN has registered for Rule 6 status which means that we will be attending the hearings to help make the case for people who have been adversely affected by the over-rapid growth and would be in the future under this proposal. Hearings are due to start in September.

Anyone living locally and impacted by the noise from Luton Airport is welcome to join LADACAN to ensure their voice is heard: see https://ladacan.org/about-us/ for details.