Daisy Cooper, the MP for St Albans, has called in parliament for an application by Luton Airport to increase passenger numbers to 19 million a year to be ‘called in’ for scrutiny by central government.
Leading a debate in the Commons, Daisy pointed out that in the 10 years to 2019, passenger numbers more than doubled from 9 million a year to exceed the approved capacity of 18 million. The airport is applying for permission to formally expand to 19 million passengers per year to remedy the breach.
Luton was not due to hit the threshold of 18 million passengers per year until 2028, meaning it has doubled in size in half the projected time. The airport is also drawing up longer-term plans to expand to 32 million passengers per year.
The huge rise in the number of planes has resulted in a 50% increase in aircraft movements, and this in turn has been compounded by all planes being required to navigate a narrow corridor between St Albans and Harpenden – meaning that residents beneath the flightpath suffer excessive noise over and over.
“Any further expansion to the airport must take into account the devastating impact of increased air traffic on climate change and the great health consequences of further air pollution on neighboring districts,” she told the transport minister.
Daisy also raised the “real or perceived conflict of interest” at the heart of the airport’s expansion plans whereby Luton Borough Council owns the airport but the airport is run at arms’ length. As a result, the authority charged with making impartial judgments on planning and enforcement at the airport stood to lose the most from rejecting applications for expansion and from enforcement.
She said it was “absolutely critical” that the airport’s current application for a development control order be ‘called in’ by the secretary of state “to restore the trust of our local communities”.
You can add your voice to Daisy’s by signing the petition below: