The PR machine at Luton Airport is now in a complete spin over night flights, according to local campaigners. The Airport is now strenuously denying the flight projections contained in its own planning application.
In a new “Fact” Sheet described as “a fully referenced narrative on noise which provides complete and transparent answers to the salient questions based on factual data compiled by aviation experts and noise technicians” Luton Airport denies that it is planning to double the number of flights between 10pm and midnight, saying recent press statements are “untrue”.
However, graphs in its own planning application, compiled by independent aviation experts and noise consultants Bickerdike Allen, clearly show the number of flights in the 10pm to midnight time slot set to rise from 17 to 35 on average – ie there WOULD be a doubling of flights in that period, as shown below with annotations:
Similarly, the “Fact” Sheet claims that the Airport will only be adding two additional flights between 5am and 6am on a busy summer day, whereas its planning application clearly shows that on average they plan to add SIX extra flights between 5am and 6am.
The “Fact” Sheet was issued to coincide with the handing-in to Luton Town Hall of a 1,000-signature petition signed by residents of Luton, Stevenage, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Harpenden and villages all around Luton Airport protesting against the proposed increases in night flights and the resultant reduction of “night” around Luton to just 5 hours. The petition calls for Luton Borough Council to apply planning controls to limit the number of night flights from Luton Airport to 2011 levels, and the campaign is supported by many people who live in Luton itself.
Speaking for NoMoreNightFlights.com the campaign alliance behind Thursday’s rally, Andrew Lambourne said “Luton Airport is in complete denial about its devastating plans for night flights. Their own data shows a planned increase from 17 to 35 flights on average between 10pm and midnight, yet they are saying it is untrue to call this a doubling. Well by anybody else’s arithmetic that IS a doubling of flights between 10pm and midnight – that is what the planning application says. Are they now withdrawing that aspect of their plans? They cannot have it both ways.”
The row comes at a time of increased focus nationally on expansion plans for airports all around London, and significant concerns are being raised about the impacts on public health and basic human rights. The World Health Organisation states in relation to night noise “40 to 55 dB: Adverse health effects are observed among the exposed population. Many people have to adapt their lives to cope with the noise at night. Vulnerable groups are more severely affected.” Similarly the Environmental Research and Consultancy Department of the CAA states “It is especially important to limit noise during the earlier part of the night when people are falling asleep” and “just one additional awakening per night induced by aircraft noise has an adverse effect on people’s health and wellbeing.” Yet Luton Airport is planning to move in exactly the opposite direction.
“The Airport MD claims there will be massive economic benefit from expanding Luton Airport – 5,100 more jobs, and a more vibrant local economy.” continued Andrew Lambourne. “If we cannot trust what they say about night flights, we cannot trust what they say about jobs – experts say these jobs figures are probably overstated by a factor of 5, which would be a cruel hoax on local people. Given the proposed doubling of passenger numbers and night flights, a tired workforce fighting its way along ever-more congested local roads is not going to benefit anybody’s economy.”