Luton Airport 19 million? Time to say NO!

This consultation has now closed, but responses will still be reviewed until the application is sent to planning committee.

Luton Airport deliberately grew twice as fast as its original commitment, reaching 18 million passengers in 2019 rather than 2028, well ahead of the less noisy aircraft needed to meet its promise to control the noise footprint.

Having completely ignored the noise impacts on residents, extra emissions from older, inefficient aircraft, and pollution from thousands of passengers still travelling in cars, it now wants permission to ignore its environmental responsibilities. The key thing missing from its planning application is the Carbon Reduction Plan.

The Airport is saying it must have this permission to safeguard jobs and its vital contribution to the local economy. Thanks to over-extending itself in the rush to develop the airport site, Luton Borough Council is now almost bankrupt, and the government has told it to reduce its dependence on the Airport.

Many people recall waves of aircraft starting before 06:00 and running on into the small hours of the night, with barely a couple of minutes between them at busy times. Others moved to the area when it was bearable, but the rapid increase in flights, noise and traffic congestion near the Airport really reduced their quality of life. People are frustrated and angry by the lack of control, feeling that the Airport chases commercial opportunity regardless of its promises to balance growth by measures which reduce noise.

Anyone concerned about quality of life around the Airport should object to this application. This is not just about “another million passengers”: the permission they seek would allow excess flights and emissions to continue. But most of all it would perpetuate the unhealthy reliance on just one cash-cow for the people of Luton.

How to comment on this application

Your comments need to be made on the Luton Council Planning Portal – details are provided at the end of this page!

We suggest preparing what you want to say ready to copy and paste it onto the portal in case it “times out” while you are writing. Why not start by describing how bad the noise and transport congestion became for you during the rapid growth of Luton Airport up to its busiest year in 2019? Then have a look at the questions below, which may help you prepare some comments in your own words:

Did the noise from the Airport in 2019 become excessive?
2019 was the Airport’s busiest year, in which it reached its passenger limit. Wizz Air in particular had introduced many more of the largest A321 planes yet the supposedly less noisy “neo” was proving to be just as loud at Luton.

Were you disturbed by aircraft noise from Luton during the day / at night?

Did you notice it getting much worse over the last 5 years – more / noisier?

Do you think the Council should enforce the noise controls, not relax them?

If so, we suggest objecting to this application due to the lack of control of noise, bearing in mind that the Council has a duty to protect residents.

Do you find night flights keep you awake or wake you up?
Luton Airport has increased night flights six-fold since 2013, up from 500 to 3,000. This planning application wants to go even further: the biggest noise increase it’s asking for is at night. The WHO links night noise to poor health.

Do Luton flights late at night or early in the morning disturb you?

Would it be wrong for the Airport to further increase its noise at night?

Do you think noise insulation is useless in hot weather or when outdoors?

If so, we suggest opposing this application because of the proposal to increase the night noise footprint and the links between noise at night and poor health, as well as the risks of accidents if people are tired.

Are you concerned about increasing carbon emissions from aviation?
The Committee for Climate Change has strongly recommended limiting growth in aviation in order to meet net zero by 2050. Luton Airport has so far only managed to reduce its emissions by 0.9%, and cannot directly control carbon emissions from passenger journeys or aircraft.

Do you think the Airport should reduce emissions by reducing flight numbers?

Should the Airport bring in greener planes and redesign airspace to remove inefficiencies before expanding any further?

Should the Airport prove it can reduce emissions from aircraft and passenger travel before applying to increase capacity?

If so, we suggest you object to this application on the grounds that it is unsustainable and not in line with achieving net zero by 2050 or Luton’s own declaration of a Climate Emergency.

Did local road and rail services get too congested in 2019?
By allowing passenger growth to rise so quickly between 2013 and 2019, the Airport put an extra burden of 50-60,000 passenger journeys per day on local road and rail services, without the infrastructure being able to cope.

Did you find local roads more congested during 2019 than ever?

Did you notice rail services becoming ever more crowded?

Is it bad that passengers’ cars account for 50% of causes of emissions?

If so, we suggest you object to the this application because the Airport has has not yet dealt with the significant emissions burden from cars used by passengers to travel to and from the airport by achieving a switch to public transport.

Are you happy with the promises of economic benefit and jobs?
When Luton Airport applied in 2013 to expand to 18 million passengers it told everyone that there would be economic benefit and lots of new jobs. These benefits have not changed, and post-COVID it will be able to recover. No reasons has been given for wanting to move ahead of that level.

Do you think the original promises of economic benefit were sufficient?

Do you want the Council now to focus on finding a wider range of jobs?

Are you concerned the Council has invested far too much in the Airport?

If so, we suggest you object to this application and propose that the Council should invest in diversifying the local economy, rather than pouring yet more money into supporting the Spanish-owned airport operator.

Do you think Luton Airport should keep its promises?
Luton Airport signed legal agreements with the Council in 2015 agreeing to manage its growth in line with noise reductions. Yet it has mismanaged the growth by allowing too many flights too soon, in order to make more money for its shareholders. Now it’s asking for the mismanagement to be legalised.

Do you think Luton Airport should stick to its legal agreements?

Do you think the Council should stand up for its residents?

Do you think planning conditions are there for a reason?

If so, we recommend you object to this application using those as reasons why the Council should refuse permission for the Airport to ignore its planning conditions, and instead make it stick to its original agreements.

Should Luton Council uphold its own Local Plan ?
Luton Borough Council has a Local Plan which includes provisions which protect people from environmental impacts such as noise and pollution. Its own Environmental Protection department is opposed to this application, because the additional noise would undo careful work to bring noise down.

Do you think the protection provided by Luton’s Local Plan is important?

Do you think the Airport Operator should respect the Local Plan?

Should the Council should back its own Environmental Protection team?

If so, we recommend you object to this application on grounds that the environmental harms would outweigh commercial benefit, particularly because 18 million passengers gives sufficient economic benefit in any case.

Do you think Luton Airport should be honest with people?
In its planning application, the Airport tries to rewrite history, claiming its 2013 permission was to grow to 18 million passengers by 2020 (untrue – it said 2028); the Airport operates within strict noise parameters (untrue – it deliberately broke its noise limits). It does however admit its Business and Operations teams should have communicated better over growth rate.

Should the biggest noise polluter locally be truthful in consultation?

Should this “good neighbour Airport” operate within its limits?

Should the Airport’s managers prove they are trustworthy first?

If so, we suggest you oppose this planning application on grounds that the Airport has not been operated in a satisfactory manner, and the Council needs to sort that out before permitting any further growth.

How to submit your comments:

Your comments on this planning application need to be submitted on the Luton Council Planning Portal. Here’s how to do it in 3 easy steps:

1) Register / Log On to the Luton Council Planning Portal
Follow this link to the Luton Planning Portal page and find these buttons:

Use orange Login button if already registered, else blue Register button.
  1. If you need to Register, click the button and fill in your details
  2. Wait for a confirmation email, and respond to it to activate your account

2) Prepare your comments in your own words based on the above
LUTON’S PLANNING PORTAL TIMES OUT AFTER 15-20 min so we really recommend getting your comments ready in NotePad or Word so you can copy/paste them in.

3) Submit your objection:
Follow that link again to the Luton Planning Portal page, click “Make a Comment” and then click “Log in and make a comment”. Log in there and you will still be on the right page. If not, do as Search for 21/00031/VARCON.

Click the Comment button, and select Commenter Type “Neighbour letter” (in which case your name and address will be displayed) or “Request to be made sensitive” to hide them. In Stance select “Object” and choose what bothers you – either “Noise and disturbance” or “Other” which might be traffic congestion or emissions:

Then paste in your comments and submit them.

If all else fails, you can email your objection along with your name, address and postcode, quoting reference 21/00031/VARCON, to: developmentcontrol@luton.gov.uk

REMEMBER: you can add a comment to this webpage, but you also need to submit your objection to Luton Borough Council on the planning portal or email it to them otherwise it won’t count!

If you have found this information useful, please join LADACAN to be kept up to date with latest developments – see our Join Us page.

26 comments

  1. It is no wonder that there is all this airport controversy, Luton Council is run by a bunch of (people) who frankly cannot even get the road network right so why would the airport be any different.
    HELLO LUTON COUNCIL we do not need more aircraft, more noise more pollution, more traffic.
    Why should the funds from this antisocial activity be used to subsidise Luton Councils inability to spend money wisely. Luton Airport is seen as a cash cow by Luton Council and it will bulldoze over all common sense moves in order to get its way. Luton Airport is a world war 2 airstrip that has got out of hand and the one good thing covid has done it cut it back to size and long may that remain, we don’t need more stinking lumps of metal polluting the atmosphere.

  2. I am preparing my own submission about the application and should like to send it to LADACAN and, if I think it’s useful, to Luton Borough. How would it be best to do this?
    The reduction in aircraft movements since the lockdown has underlined a very obvious but (by me) unobserved feature. On a day like today (25/01.2021) the sky first thing (well mid morning) was an unbroken blue expanse when viewed from central Hitchin, where I live. Not a cloud, not a vapour trail.
    This has been a feature during good weather only since the lockdowns started as initially there were no planes in the sky – nor clouds either. When air traffic movements recommenced it became evident that much of what in the past I had taken for whispy cloud was in fact dispersing vapour trails.

    1. Hi David – thanks for getting in touch. Feel free to email us your draft and we’ll take a look if you like.
      You’re absolutely right – it’s great to see unbroken blue skies. One of the secondary downsides of aviation is the additional hazy cloud from the vapour trails, which can lead to climate effects, but from the perspective of folk on the ground absolutely ruins a nice view, and truly blue sky becomes a rare luxury.

  3. If aircraft movements contribute to Climate Change why are even thinking about ferrying more people around the world when video-conferencing and other methods of communication are so good? As regards noise insulation – what might this consist of – we had subsidized secondary glazing in the 1960s but these days most have double-glazed windows and insulated lofts against cold and noise. I will also mention the light pollution during the hours of darkness, it is quite amazing.

  4. What I find so depressing is a) the blatant conflict of interest; Luton Borough Council as a local planning authority and its position as a financial beneficiary – how is this possible? b) more planes mean more CO2 emissions, what more needs to be said c) the outright breaking of night noise limits for 3 years, without any care in the world. d) improving insulation against noise is useless in warm weather; do fancy living in a house in hot weather with the windows tightly shut? e) have you noticed the clear skies at night now when it’s cloudless ?

    1. Spot on Barry! The Council as Local Planning Authority has a legal responsibility to protect “residential amenity” – ie quality of life – yet by failing properly to scrutinise the airport expansion for which it was also legally responsible, it has allowed all these additional harms. It’s also broken the government’s “planning guarantee” of decision within 6 months by failing to decide on the Condition 10 application from a year ago and then allowing the Airport to swap it for one with even more impact, which contravenes its own Local Plan LLP6 governing noise.

  5. As a resident in Sandridge, one of the areas which will be severely negatively affected by an acceptance of this application, I strongly object to it.
    It represents an imbalanced approach between benefits to industry a) financial greed, the impacts on people b) noise and the environment c) pollution and climate change, which have been a characteristic of the operation of Luton Airport since 2014.
    The above a) b) and c), and everything resulting from them, will have a seriously negative impact on my quality of life and mental health!
    Not only mine, but those of everyone living under the busier flight paths. I appeal to the Council to abide by its own declarations and legal responsibilities and reject this application!

    1. Many thanks Kathleen – don’t forget that you need to submit your objection on the Luton Planning Portal under reference 21/00031/VARCON – but use the light blue button near the top right to Register first if you’ve not submitted a comment before.

  6. So far all promises have been breeched: the amount of flights, the night time flights, the noise levels, passenger levels. Agreements appear to be lip service only. Any “benefits” are congestion, lack of sleep, constant noise, and pollution. It has been plain to everybody that during the COVID crisis the air has been
    cleaner and fresher over the Village. People have enjoyed vital rest without constant noise by day and by night
    This constant clammer for more and more is tightening the springs for everyone with constant pressure, lack of sleep and the wilful fouling of the atmosphere. Lives have been, are being and will be made a misery at a very increasing rate. We owe it to the planet and to ourselves to decide carefully our levels and then stick to them because all our lives depend on it and the lives of future generations. Its time put the brakes on!

    1. Beryl makes a great point – if people decide to fly less, airports won’t need constantly to expand and can focus on reducing their impacts. They’ll still make plenty of money.

  7. No No NO , it is already far too busy and incredibly noisy. I thought that we were in a climate crisis!!!? So why on EARTH do they need to expand an already terrible airport that gushes out noise and air pollution over thousands of peoples homes. No absolutely NO MORE PLANES

  8. Totally against it, not only because of noise and pollution but because it’s not necessary. Heathrow is not far and other airports closer if you’re from the West, North. And let’s brush over the current controversy re the UK airports not helping re CV19, hopefully that’s not long term. The driver for this is those who profit from it, period.

  9. We are in a climate emergency. It’s time to transition to a green economy. No to airport expansion. No to more planes.

  10. I object strongly to all of the proposals for the expansion of the airport. There are no reasons for more flights, more traffic in the air and roads, as good research already has shown that air pollution is great, our health is suffering from the noise and our country side and its environment is destroyed.
    I already wrote a detailed objection at the beginning of December outlining all the faults and gross ideas of the Planning application.
    The audacity to tell us that the Airport Operators will see to quieter planes, which will not happen in the near future, airlines are bankrupt, and will not be able to afford to purchase less noisier planes. Just observe who is flying still several times a day, even with the strict regulations that no travel is permitted, WizzAir is up there with the noisiest planes endangering our lives.
    The Council is not managing the airport properly and again the gall to tell us that the expansion will bring economic resources and benefits, who do they think we are. We are not idiots believing in lies. There will be no jobs created, as in the long run the airport terminals will be run by computers.
    The application should be objected at all cost.

  11. We do not miss the planes flying into Luton over our house in Letchworth every 90 seconds in summer months from 530am. The clear blue skies have been fabulous over lockdown, no vapour trails and clear sunsets not blotted out by numerous aircraft pollution/vapour trails building over the day.
    Do not increase the flights please! It’s unbearable.

  12. Whatever any outcome the villages affected by aircraft noise should be remunerated. Caddington, for example, gets overflys at less than 1000ft when there is an easterly wind. The Parish Council should receive a minimum of £10 per over-flight during the day rising to £50 between 6.00 a.m. and 8.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. to 12.00 p.m. and £100 per flight between midnight and 6.00 a.m. Being in Central Beds Caddington gets nothing from the airport except grief.

  13. I strongly object to this application, which will otherwise cause significantly increased noise for another 1,877 homes, and add to carbon emissions and air pollution.
    I live in Letchworth and during summer months we are currently subjected to flights every 90 seconds from 5.30am for 7 days a week. We are woken by them every day and it makes sitting in the garden unbearable at times due to the constant noise of one approaching Luton or climbing with a high pitch tone to circle and then land. It is constant and has increased greatly in the 13 years we have lived here. I suffer from asthma and this has greatly improved since the pandemic began due to the lack air pollution from the skies.
    Please leave us with our clear blue skies, clear sunsets and lack of vapour trails which we regularly count in summer.

  14. Please can we prioritise, climate change should be our priority and to focus our attention on this and reducing pollution and carbon emissions not creating more. !
    I live in Letchworth and the summer months not only do we hear the flights but sitting outside is no pleasure due to the noise and regularity every day and at regular intervals. Their are enough flights and opportunities ( if people wish to travel ) but I don’t believe they will especially since the pandemic it will change some people’s behaviours.

  15. There needs to be a stop to airport expansion and new airports immediately if we are to have any chance of reducing emissions. We know the industry is heavily subsidised and there are greener ways to move both people and freight. Airports need to streamline services and make what they’ve got work without increases. You can’t say you’re going to be carbon neutral after you are allowed to expand first!

    Communities, human rights against noise violation matter. Shareholder profits do not. We are talking about quality of life, air and the planet. This expansion is not needed.

  16. This airport has total disregard for local people and the environment. We’ve had more noise pollution and more air pollution, and since Covid 19 people are more hesitant about flying so there’s time to work on cutting these down. Also the airport should be much stricter on Wizz Air which keeps flying during lockdowns. We do not need an entry point for Covid in the future.

  17. These proposals are deceptive. Whilst apparently seeking a minor increase from 18 mllion to 19 million passengers, they are in reality a Trojan Horse to nullify and get round the noise limits set down in conditions to the planning consent granted in 2013.
    It seems bizarre to consult on any proposed expansion, however minor, at a time when it is by no means certain that air travel can or indeed should return to the levels prior to Covid let alone increase beyond that level.
    Climate change is a greater concern now than ever before and aviation should first seek to be environmentally responsible before seeking further growth. It is generally accepted that post Covid there will be a ‘new normal’ and we will not simply return to the situation before the pandemic – and that includes air travel and aviation.
    Your proposals should be abandoned for the reasons above. The airport has failed in the past to “manage the effects’ of its over-rapid growth. To operate knowing that planning conditions were being flouted suggests that management in the future would be no better than management in the past. Presumably the airport will again rely on speculative forecasts for the introduction of new and quieter planes at a time when all airlines are struggling financially and unlikely to increase investment in new planes.
    The 2013 planning consent gave ample opportunity for extra jobs and revenue. A minor increase in passenger numbers can only bring minor benefits while doing nothing to mitigate the noise polution and environmental damage caused by the wilful flouting of planning conditions.
    It is an old saying – avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Supporting regional prosperity and economic growth by seeking to expand an industry suffering severe economic problems with an uncertain future is simply short-sighted and widely optimistic. Creating further environmental damage in the area will only discourage the development of other worthwhile economic activity. Property values will decline along with the physical and mental health of local residents.

  18. I strongly object to this application and future proposals for airport expansion. I join others in this by saying NO to noise and pollution, and disturbance.

  19. I would like to strongly object to expansion of the airport.
    At this time when we are aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of the nation it seems sheer madness to proceed with this plan.
    Also I would like to point out that the mental suffering from the relentless noise from overflying is enormous.
    I would very much like the planners to come and sit in our garden to experience what a large proportion of the population in Harpenden, St Albans and Sandridge have to put up with.
    Please stop and think of the damage and harm this expansion will do, greed must not ruin peoples lives!

  20. The noise, pollution, congestion of the surrounding roads, and disturbance that comes from Luton Airport is bad enough now. This proposal would make it unbearable.

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