Welwyn Garden City concerns over second Luton airport expansion in ten years
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Just four years after Luton Airport doubled its passenger numbers, Welwyn Hatfield Council has reacted to another projected expansion.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the forward strategy at Luton Airport includes yet another planned growth in passenger numbers. If a planning application were successful, the numbers would soar from 18 million to 25 million within the next ten years.
Welwyn Hatfield Council strongly opposed the initial expansion in 2013 after a consultation from Luton Borough Council, who own the airport. Welwyn Hatfield Council expressed their “disappointment” after the government gave the expansion the thumbs-up.
According to campaign group Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN), the 2014 expansion saw a 66 per cent increase in the number of flights routed towards WGC.
LADACAN spokesperson Andrew Lambourne told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “These flights are not only more numerous, but the aircraft types are tending to become larger.”
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Luton airport’s 2016 monitoring survey reports a 270 per cent increase in noise complaints in just one year.
They are spearheading initiatives to reduce the impact of noise pollution across the area. Because flights reach around 10,000 feet by the time they pass over WGC, Andrew Lambourne believes that current levels of noise are not the main concern for local residents.
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“What is clearly an issue for all of us is surface transport to and from the airport,” said Lambourne. “The trains are already crowded, the roads are getting busier – it’s going to have an effect on our local infrastructure.”
In 2014, Welwyn Hatfield Council cited congestion along the B653 among its key concerns for the original expansion. The resulting emissions are also a worry for Labour councillor Jill Weston, who leads the environmental overview and scrutiny committee.
“I wouldn’t be in favour of [further airport expansion], in terms of the fact that we are trying to cut down on ... anything that is going to increase climate change.”
A spokesperson for the Council told this newspaper: “Along with other Hertfordshire authorities, we objected to Luton Airport’s application in 2013 to expand passenger numbers to 18 million – calling for the application to be determined by the Secretary of State.
“Should an application for further expansion be submitted, we will fully review the detail and potential implications for our borough, including the impact on local roads and transport networks.”