A key noise control promise published three times in public by the operators of Luton Airport – in their revised Masterplan, Noise Fact Sheet and Planning Application – has been omitted from the planning conditions voted in by Luton Borough Council on 20th December.
Responding to public outcry about the threat of increased night noise, the airport had promised six new noise mitigations in its revised consultation documents, including a clear commitment to reduce night noise limits to 80dB by 2018. When HALE pointed out the proposed doubling of night flights between 10pm and midnight, the airport published a fact sheet which repeated the same commitment. Given the huge public NO vote to expansion plans in the consultation response, the airport brought forward the timing of this commitment to January 2015 in the draft Section 106 of its planning application.
But in the planning conditions attached to the application which was voted in by Luton Borough Council on 20th December, that vital protection has been dropped. There is a planning condition to reduce daytime noise limits, but amazingly no condition to reduce night time limits to 80dB from January 2015.
HALE believes this amounts to a clear breach of undertaking. A major commitment made repeatedly in public by the airport operator – which clearly feels able to implement it – has been dropped by the Council from the planning conditions. Either the Council is incompetent – in which case the planning decision should be called in so that it can be given more competent and independent scrutiny – or the Council is deliberately allowing the airport to set aside clear and specific commitments made in public documents upon which it based its public consultation and its planning application.
Either way, this is an absolute scandal, and HALE has written to the Council to insist that the undertaking to reduce night noise limits to 80dB in January 2015 is reflected clearly and unambiguously in the planning conditions.