Campaign group accuses council of relaxing flight noise controls

The flight path route with the RNAV navigation system. Credit: Andrew Lambourne

The flight path route with the RNAV navigation system. Credit: Andrew Lambourne - Credit: Archant

A campaign group has accused Luton Borough Council of setting aside its strictest airport noise controls, causing Hertfordshire residents to suffer from continuous noise pollution.

Luton airport

Luton airport - Credit: Archant

In 2013 Luton Airport doubled in capacity and, according to campaign group LADACAN (Luton And District Association for Control of Aircraft Noise), the council is no longer enforcing a strict noise control which was laid down at the time.

Residents in the Welwyn Hatfield borough are among those who say noisy planes are causing a disturbance.

LADACAN spokesman Andrew Lambourne said: “The controversial decision by Luton Borough Council to double passenger capacity came as a package with strict planning controls which were promised to mitigate environmental impact.

“This included fines for all aircraft which exceeded type-specific noise limits, to incentivise investment in quieter aircraft. No such quieter aircraft have yet been introduced, and in response to pressure from the airlines, type-specific noise limits are not being enforced.”

Andrew claimed that a more lenient noise limit has been adopted, penalising just one flight in 4,000 with a fine of £100.

He said: “The airport is a cash cow, and the council will obviously not want to upset the airlines by fining dodgy flights.

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“There is a clear conflict of interest here, which demands independent scrutiny. We have raised this with Sajid Javid, secretary of state for communities and local government.”

LADACAN also accused the council of not listening to concerns of residents and campaigners. Andrew said: “Having granted itself planning permission for expansion, it appears to have pulled down the shutters and avoided legitimate questioning by local councils and campaign groups.

“This shows how weak the much-trumpeted concept of localism is when it comes to things which affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of residents suffering increased noise pollution year-on-year, with no financial compensation and no means of control.”

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “Luton Airport has categorically not ‘secretly dismantled’ or ‘watered down’ noise conditions that were imposed to planning permission granted to the airport operator in 2013 to 2014.

“The council, as the planning authority, is fully committed to its responsibilities to the airport’s neighbours.

“Permissions in planning application 12/01400/FUL allowed for a range of works at the airport and imposed various conditions, including a cap on annual passenger numbers of 18 million.

“The airport operator submitted a planning application in June 2015 seeking to vary one condition. The application was the subject of consultation through the press, site notices, neighbour consultation and notification of statutory and non-statutory bodies, including LADACAN.

“The proposed change was discussed during consultation by the London Luton Airport Consultative Committee, of which LADACAN is a member.”