London Luton Airport Expansion                                             


Jan./Feb 2021. Considerations and Views for and against expansion.       Report from Ron Taylor. Editor

Your views on the development are welcome.

Please email me, Ron Taylor at


Luton Airport and its owners have repeatedly shown a complete disregard for local air quality, aircraft noise, and traffic levels for villages in this constituency, from Offley and Breachwood Green in the North down to Harpenden, Wheathampstead, and Sandridge in the South. Their only concern appears to be more money for Luton Council.

I implore all local residents within Hitchin & Harpenden to follow the weblink below to submit your opposition to the planning application:

St Albans District Council. Press Release. Feb 22

Concerns about plans to expand London Luton Airport have been raised by St Albans City and District Council.

The Council has approached three organisations to voice their reservations and ask for more information about the impact of the proposals.

London Luton Airport is looking for permission to increase passenger numbers by one million a year to 19 million.

It has indicated it will apply later this year for a further expansion to 32 million a year, doubling the current numbers.

The Council has highlighted the increase in carbon emissions that would result from the expansion in a letter to the Environmental Health Department of Luton Borough Council (LBC).

The letter points out that LBC is committed to tackling the climate emergency and cutting harmful emissions.

However, the Council says this policy pledge conflicts with the increase in emissions from more flights and extra road traffic that would be generated by more passengers.

Furthermore, the letter states the airport’s management admits it can only directly affect 3% of emissions associated with the airport with the other 97% being outside of its control.

The letter calls on LBC, which owns the airport, to ensure there is “a comprehensive and realistic action plan for reducing all emissions relating to the airport and use of the airport which meets the needs of the climate emergency”.

The Council has also approached the Department of Transport and called on the Government “to prioritise accelerating the reduction in climate damaging emissions rather than growth in passenger and flight numbers”. 

Its letter says more work should be done on reducing the environmental impact of aviation if the Government is to achieve its goal of making the country carbon neutral by 2050.

The Government is also urged to reduce aircraft noise in the District caused by flights to and from Luton by implementing a new airspace strategy.

Network Rail has also been approached by the Council in regard to the impact a new rail freight deport at Radlett may have on Luton Parkway station which serves the airport.

The Council would like to see airport passengers make more use of train services from London and the north rather than roads to access the airport, although it does not want the District’s own commuters to be negatively impacted.

In its letter to Network Rail, the Council says a reduction in trains to Luton Parkway caused by the depot “would clearly be a significant blow to efforts to encourage a step change in how people access the airport”.


The Council has asked for more information about this issue especially for peak travelling times.


The concerns were raised following recommendations made by the Council’s Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Chris White, Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate, Environment and Transport, and Councillor Annie Brewster, the Committee’s Chair, are the signatories to the Council’s letters.


Cllr White said: “The expansion planned by London Luton Airport is highly significant and has the potential to have an adverse effect on our District.


“We are not opposed to economic development, but it has to meet the environmental needs of the whole community and the major challenge of our times is clearly tackling climate change.


“The airport’s expansion plans would be a major blow to that ambition as it would lead to more flights, more congested roads, more air and noise pollution. The airport just does not appear to have a credible plan to counter that.


“We have pointed this out to Luton Borough Council and the Government and will be interested to see their responses.


Cllr Brewster said: “My Committee was unanimous in putting forward recommendations to deal with concerns our residents have about the impact the airport has on their lives. 

“Damaging consequences to the environment and our residents’ health are already unacceptable and now we are faced with plans for unacceptable expansions.

“We feel that Luton Borough Council and the Government needs to make the reduction of emissions a priority for the aviation sector over increasing passenger numbers. 

“Expansion plans should be shelved until Government has revised its post-Brexit and post-pandemic aviation policy. We also want to see the airport develop an action plan to reduce current noise and emissions. This should take into account emissions not just from aircraft, but from the considerable traffic that the airport generates in our District.”

THE HARPENDEN SOCIETY  Airport expansion ‘unjustified’

Covid restrictions on foreign travel have reduced the number of flights in and out of Luton Airport by about two thirds, bringing welcome relief for aircraft noise sufferers in and around Harpenden. But it is clear from statements put out by London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLA) that its commercial ambition of increasing capacity beyond 18 million passengers per annum remains in place.

Only this week, LLA has submitted a planning application to increase passengers per annum to 19 million and the medium term ambition is to increase this to 32 million passengers.

  Anti-noise pressure groups, notably LADACAN, HarpendenSky and STAQS (St Albans Quieter Skies) are, with the support of the Harpenden Society, pressing for a climate change and Covid-driven reassessment of the airport expansion plans, describing them as unjustified and unmerited.

LADACAN spokesman Andrew Lambourne, in a reference to aviation’s impact on climate change, says ‘the industry is innately carbon inefficient’. He also points out that current airspace design is such that Luton's departing planes often cannot climb away to reduce their ground-level noise and pollution footprint. They are held low at 4-5,000ft sometimes for 15 to 20 miles, which is noisy and very inefficient. Also, many Wizz flights taking off to the west are often given permission by air traffic control to shortcut over south Harpenden as they head for Eastern European destinations."

After exceeding noise control limits for three consecutive years, LLA has indicated it wants these limits lifted and to break four more of the planning conditions laid down by Luton Borough Council in 2013.

Hertfordshire County Council, whose area extends right up to the airport boundary close to Breachwood Green, has long objected to expansion proposals, and has sent what it calls a ‘robust 18-page rejection’ of the proposal to increase passengers to 19 million per annum, affirming that they run directly counter to HCC’s declared ‘sustainable Hertfordshire strategy’ which includes the aspiration of ‘clean air for all by 2030’. Cllr Derrick Ashley says that ‘in the current climate, lowcost flying (by easyJet, Wizz and others) is not an option for a sustainable future’.

In response a spokesperson for the airport’s owner Luton Borough Council has said that further expansion beyond 19 million passengers per annum will require a development consent order and whether or not to approve that order will be determined by the Secretary of State and not – as is currently the case – by LBC


More comments from Councillor Annie Brewster, the Committee’s Chair,

“The environmental impact on our District’s health is already unacceptable with zero mitigation measures offered in the air, on our railway or on our roads since the last approved doubling of passenger numbers in 2013.

“Now, we are faced with two further expansion plans.  An application has just been submitted for a further million passengers per year taking them to 19m.  Another, doubling current numbers to 32m passengers a year, is expected later this year.

“We were expecting to see what mitigation plans are proposed to accompany these huge increases.  However, there does not seem to be any solution to passengers driving to and from the airport from the east and the west through the District’s roads and we learned that 97% of the airport’s associated carbon emissions are out of their direct control. They have to wait until airlines fly quieter and more fuel-efficient planes but neither of these outcomes appear to be on the horizon.

“Therefore, we feel that central Government needs to make the reduction of emissions a priority for the aviation sector over increasing passenger numbers.  Any further expansion plans should be shelved until Government has revised its aviation policy, examining post-Brexit effects and flying confidence trends as we recover from the pandemic. 

“We also want to see the airport develop an action plan to reduce current noise and emissions, taking into account emissions not just from aircraft but from the considerable traffic that the airport generates in our District.

“Our local and country roads leading to the airport can be at standstill and this will only intensify if the airport expands any further.”

Leading the fight against Luton Airport noise and aviation's environmental impacts

Ladacan in conjunction with Local community groups and Councils are united in their opposition to further expansion at Luton Airport.

Not only will it cause significant and unsustainable environmental damage through noise, emissions and pollution from aircraft and traffic, it will also overwhelm local road and rail services.

They have analysed all the proposals in the official documentations and applications to show why the expansion is fundamentally unsustainable:

*Causing 77,000 extra journeys a day on congested roads and rail services

*Increasing local air quality pollution and contribution to climate change by over 50%

*Adding a further 80,000 flights a year to our already noisy and crowded skies

*Creating an airport far bigger than can reasonably be accommodated given its geographical context so close to so many rural communities

*Adding to financial risk for Luton Borough Council due to over-dependence on a presumption of continuous aviation growth made several suggestions

The LADACAN web site has the most comprehensive background to all the issues.

Click here:

I asked LADACAN chair Andrew Lambourne if there were any constructive comments he could suggest that Airport Operators should action and deliver before proceeding with expansion plans:

The airport operators could for example:

a) financially incentivise aircraft with more efficient engines and disincentivise those without

b) ditto the use of provably greener aviation fuels

c) work hard within the industry to achieve airspace change which really delivers benefit for Luton flights through emissions reduction from continuous climb and descent (at the moment they play very much second fiddle to Heathrow and London City overflights and some Stansted arrivals)

d) achieve by one means or another a modal shift of passengers from cars to public transport, plus greener taxis, plus efficiency (taxis are incredibly wasteful if the concession prevents pickups after drop-off for example)

We want them to postpose capacity increase until these things are being provably delivered and they are making inroads on the 97% of emissions which come from aircraft and from passengers travelling by road."  END


1.You are a very silly person to think air travel will not be back bigger than before lock down the airport needs to get on with it's expansion plans to keep up with demand. Also for the need for jobs and the local business

2.It's a labor constituency, hence the drama

3.Tesla need to sort rocket travel and be competitive to take the business side of travel.
Stevenage is a joke at times now with aircraft after aircraft.
Wasn’t so bad when they were smaller but just getting bigger and bigger.

4.Agree 100%. Well written

5. What?!? Short haul business travel is dead, recreational travel is dead, the future doesn’t need more air travel it needs less. Pandemics will increase in variety and virility as we continue to destroy habitats and come into contact with them. Why are they even bothering...who is set to make money despite this ludicrous idea? Same people behind the garden bridge and Hs2

6.Well I don’t agree, it’s more jobs for local people, more business for the UK, and not forgetting tourism in both directions. We need to be outward looking not NIMBYs...

7.What do the people of Luton want? It's their airport... these are their jobs... perhaps their voice is far more pertinent than ours?

The airport has been there long before any of us moved into the area. For those who remember the expansion in late 70s and 80s, with those loud and smoky Boeing 720s and BAC 1-11s - today's noise pollution is fractional by comparison. Even by night.

We don't suffer the road traffic, as the arterial and rail links have been vastly improved. An expansion of... what... 6% in passenger volume? Is this really the moment for affluent neighbours to get pinch-faced about something that's not theirs?

8.The Luton economy is fragile right now. Brexit has placed question marks around the likes of Easyjet and Vauxhall and thousands of jobs with them. If there's an opportunity to secure investment, along with revenues and employment... perhaps we ought to see the bigger picture

  1. 9.Can we submit our support for the proposal using the link as well?

10.At a time when the airline industry is concerned passenger numbers will decline in a COVID world

London Luton Airport plans for expansion are ill founded and unsustainable. A view from Harpendia.

Q1.LLA want to increase the size of terminal buildings and support buildings to accommodate the increase in passenger numbers from 18m to 19m per year.

A. Built on hill with sloping sides all around the footprint for the Airport is too small for it to expand on the projections suggested in the new application without causing problems. Original intentions to be a pan European hub for the tourist and business market have proved successful. The limiting factors for more expansion are plain to see when compared to regional competitors Stansted and Gatwick.

Both of which are on flat, easily accessible land with plenty of room for expansion and better access.

Additionally there are issues with congested flight paths involving Heathrow and Stansted.

Already the 5th largest airport in the UK it has now reached the limit of its expansion.

Q2. LLA want to increase accessibility to the airport via road and rail.

A. Access for road traffic is severely limited with the current links despite major works from M1 junction 10 in last 2 years.

Encouraging future airport users to travel by train to and from London on the Thameslink service will be severely restricted by the planned Rail Freight Depot south of St Albans. Freight movements will take away rail time from passenger services.

Their light railway (DART) from Luton Airport Parkway station to the main terminal will only ease congestion at one stage of the journey.

Q3. LLA want to be kind to the environment despite increasing flight numbers by day and night.

A. Any increase in flight numbers will have implications on the air quality with increased emissions from a wide range of pollutants likely to impact the health of residents.

Q4. LLA want to be a good neighbour despite increasing flight numbers by day and night.

A. Any increase will substantially increase noise levels during the day and night causing annoyance and disturbance to families across the whole area.

Q5. LLA want to be a good neighbour despite increasing road traffic in already congested local roads.

A. Any increase will create delays on local roads causing annoyance and disruption to local residents as well as increasing fumes from exhausts and particle emissions from tyre and brake ware.

Q6. LLA want to have a sustainable future business by increasing passenger numbers and business travellers.

A. Their forecasted projections for growth are now irrelevant with travel plans being curtailed short term by Covid and longer term by changing attitudes to increased flight travel.

Q7. LLA want to have a sustainable financial future by increasing passenger numbers and business travellers.

A. Airport business models are based on 3 key revenue streams: Fees from flight operators;   Income from terminal shopping and hospitality; income from parking/car hire.

Given LLA’s operational requirement to ‘move’ travellers through the terminal more speedily to board flights there will be significantly less time to buy product from retailers,  bars and restaurants.

Given LLA’s objective to encourage more travellers to use rail services there will be a decline in parking and car hire revenues.

Q8. LLA want to generate economic growth for the town and increase employment opportunity.

A. An unsustainable financial Airport complex will not create revenues to cover the investments to date and the huge debts recently negotiated by LBC. Their purchase of New Century Park in 2015 should continue to be developed as an Enterprise Zone.  This can be achieved without the need for a larger Airport.

Q9. LLA want to work within the UK Aviation Strategy, expected to be published later this year.

A. With world-wide pressure on Climate Change strategy on the brink of new thinking it is likely that the Aviation sector will have to grapple with new demands to help save the Environment.

Q10. LLA have a vision to be a more modern, efficient and environmentally and socially responsible LTN.

A. They can achieve their vision by rethinking the future in light of all the comments above.

Ongoing changes within the existing framework should be directed towards improving Quality rather than Quantity. A thriving business with happy travellers, contented neighbours and a safer environment.

As with most online sites these days, if you've never used it before the first thing you'll need to do is to Register. at


Simply click on the light blue button top right:


You then fill in the details they require, and the system sends you a confirmation email. Respond to that, and it will enable your access, form where you can then go back to the portal and use the Login button to activate the ability to make comments. The search reference (which you will probably need again by then) is 21/00031/VARCON


Liberal Democrats Councillor in Harpenden, Harry Hill comments:

Whilst we recognise the valuable employment and wider economic role Luton Airport plays, the expansion plans are insufficient in relation to environmental mitigations. From carbon emissions, air and noise pollution, to inadequate existing local transport by road and rail, the impact to Harpenden residents of airport expansion is very concerning. Both St Albans District Council and Hertfordshire County Council have declared a climate emergency and Luton Airport expansion is incompatible with the action required to meet net-zero carbon emission targets. 

Before you have your say I asked the Chief  Executive of London Luton Airport Limited (Robin Porter) a few pertinent questions.

Here is his reply (Feb 11)

Q1. Which organisation is responsible for raising this request and why?


RESPONSE: The planning application is from the airport operator (LLAOL) and seeking to vary conditions that were imposed when they first obtained planning permission in 2014.


Q2. How will the responses to this consultation be measured and the views considered?


RESPONSE: The application will be reported to the Development Control Committee, where the issues raised in the responses will be summarised and then addressed in the officer's report to members.  The consultation responses will be included in full as an appendix to the officer's report.


In considering the responses that the Council receives, relevant departments and statutory bodies will have been consulted, whilst the Council has also appointed specialist consultants to review the issues raised in relation to noise and climate change.


Q3. What will happen next and when will the result be published?


RESPONSE: Once the consultation period has expired, the application will be considered by officers.  Since the application is accompanied by an Environmental Statement (that being development that could have significant environmental impacts), officers will consider whether further information is required in order to enable them to make a recommendation to the committee.  Due to the nature of the application it will have to be reported to the Development Control Committee for Councillors to consider.

ADDITIONALLY: Ron, for additional information, please also see:


This page states:

The operator of London Luton Airport has submitted a planning application (reference 21/00031/VARCON) seeking consent to increase the capacity of the airport from 18 million passengers per year (mppa) to 19 mppa, and to amend the day and night noise contours.

This application will be determined by the Local Planning Authority (LPA), which has validated the application and begun the 30-day statutory period of consultation.

The application can be viewed on Luton’s planning portal at by entering the application reference number in the ‘application search’ field, and comments can be provided via the portal until 17 February.

you will be aware that the application from LLAOL is of course entirely separate from LLAL’s Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-2050.

THANK YOU ROBIN. Ron Taylor Editor

I have read the application document prepared for LLAOL by WOOD Environment & Infrastructure Solutions UK Ltd. Full of highly technical details as you would expect there is one worrying section about noise levels where in section 4.5 they acknowledge that the long term health effect of higher noise levels is judged to be significant. In mitigation LLA will provide noise insulation to reduce noise exposure indoors, though this will not reduce noise levels with windows and doors open.

Harpenden Town Council official response.


We believe that the expansion plans set out in this application are inappropriate and should not be taken forward. Our objections to this are set out below.

Harpenden is a town of some 30,000 residents situated, at its nearest point, about 4 miles from the runway of Luton Airport and from the centre of the Town about 6 miles away. The flightpaths for a significant proportion of take offs, in both West wind and East wind scenarios, are over, or near, Harpenden. This means that there is already significant aircraft noise over and close to Harpenden throughout the day, continuing during night-time also.

The Town Council objects to the plans to increase the passenger capacity at Luton Airport from 18 million ppa to 19 million ppa. As set out above, the airport is already having a negative impact on our Town and this expansion will make the situation significantly worse.

Given the unprecedented challenges that we faced in 2020 and pre-existing Government and public interest in environmental issues (Climate Emergency) we continue to have doubts as to whether the projected future growth and use of the Airport will, in fact, materialise or be allowed to materialise.

Our objection is based on three key aspects, which are the Air traffic noise, carbon emissions and the impact on the existing transport network.

Air traffic noise
Air traffic noise already seriously blights residents in Harpenden. We receive regular complaints and examples from our residents that evidence the negative impact that the flight paths and traffic levels already have. Concerns are the frequent low overflying aircraft disturbing residents' enjoyment of their gardens for sitting out or hobbies in spring to autumn and the night-time aircraft that disturb sleep.
There are currently very few new generation aircraft, which are quieter and have lower emissions, operating out of the airport. Whilst we understand that there will be incentives for airlines to bring new aircraft into operation in the future, we believe it will take many years to make a noticeable impact.

Carbon emissions
The carbon emission growth that will arise from this expansion directly conflicts with local and national priorities of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. We are concerned that the local air quality will be severely affected, resulting in an increase in long term health problems such as chronic respiratory diseases, lung cancer and heart disease.

We have previously raised concerns that there has been a lack of consideration to an Air Quality Environmental Impact Assessment, which is needed to understand the current impact on the environment and the predicted impact because of the increased capacity. The impact assessment contained in this application appears to not provide a balanced view of the environmental risks.

Existing transport network
We are concerned about the impact that the increased number of passengers travelling to the airport each year will have on Harpenden. The M1 around Junction 10 already appears to be close to capacity, despite a recent expansion and the local train services prior to the Covid-19 pandemic were not fit for purpose.

We understand that there will be sustainable transport plans put in place that encourage people to use more sustainable options, but these targets still appear to be highly aspirational.

An increased capacity of Luton Airport has the potential to have a significant negative impact on our Town and for that reason the Town Council strongly objects to the proposals that have been put forward.