This page gives a quick summary of the background to what’s going on regarding proposals for Luton Airport expansion, and how you can assist with the HALE campaign.
Companies involved: Luton Airport is owned by Luton Borough Council (LBC) through a company called London Luton Airport Limited or LLAL. The airport is run day-to-day by a completely separate company called London Luton Airport Operations Limited or LLAOL. This operating company is part of a Spanish airport operations concern called abertis. In 1998 the owners LLAL awarded a 30-year operating contract to LLAOL to run Luton Airport.
“LLAL owns the airport for Luton Council, and LLAOL operates the airport day-to-day.”
Financial background: LLAOL the airport operating company charges airlines (and passengers, by way of parking, drop-off and trolleys) to use the airport, and pays some £23m per year to Luton Borough Council for the privilege of doing so. This money is used to pay for amenities in Luton, and to reduce Luton’s council taxes. Luton Council now wants the airport to make even more money for Luton, and is applying to its own planning department for permission to increase the annual passenger capacity from 9 million to 18 million.
“Luton Borough Council is the entity pushing for aggressive expansion of Luton Airport’s capacity so it gets more money.”
futureLuToN proposal: Luton Borough Council launched an aggressive set of airport expansion proposals in February 2012 under the banner futureLuToN. In an initial 6-week consultation phase they visited various towns and villages, and are asking for feedback and questions via email (best) to firstname.lastname@example.org or via an online questionnaire (which forces you to answer their questions). They say all the questions and online feedback will be covered when the planning application is issued in early April. The futureLuToN consultation period ends on 26th March.
“Luton Borough Council is threatening to end prematurely the 30-year operating concession held by LLAOL in order to get more investment for expansion under a new 30-year contract.”
LLAOL / abertis rival proposal: LLAOL, the abertis-owned airport operator, has now unveiled its own plans for airport expansion in a bid to retain its operating concession, as well as threatening to sue LBC for £300 million if the break clause is triggered. Its banner is London’s Local Airport. Most of the proposals are more or less the same as those put forward by LBC, but the LLAOL bid proposes 2 million less passengers per year. This involves a separate 6-week public consultation, with an end date of 24th April. The email address for questions is email@example.com, and apparently general questions will be answered. There will not be visiting roadshows but there is an exhibition at the airport to explain their proposals. The expansion plans are very similar, so the same basic questions and comments will apply to both – but keep an eye on HALE for updates.
“LLAOL is threatening to sue Luton Borough Council for £300m if its operating concession is withdrawn.”
Response to the proposals: HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion) was set up to inform and catalyse opinion, sharing its analyses with local Councils and MPs as they assess the two rival bids for airport expansion. The HALE website is a valuable information resource for local people to use in assessing the proposals. We expose information which both proposals try to hide, and point out where they are being economical with the truth or even misleading. We highlight what the both the expansion proposals would mean in practice. People can use this information to ask their own questions by email to each of the proposers.
“Both expansion proposals are economical with the truth about increasing aircraft noise, increasing peak flying hours and increasing night flights.”
Public involvement: HALE is encouraging as many people as possible from the affected towns and villages in North Herts as well as Central Beds to post replies on our site so we can build a sense of solidarity and wide engagement. We are not a parochial group representing the concerns of just one community – we want as many local communities as possible to realise the likely impact on their quality of life and on their roads if these proposals succeed. Anyone who is genuinely concerned about the negative impact of continued expansion of Luton Airport is free to post.
“HALE’s website is an information sharing resource to be used by all the towns and villages which would be affected by further Luton Airport expansion.”
Media involvement: HALE works alongside other campaign groups such as LADACAN and LLATVCC to help raise media awareness of the growing opposition to Luton Airport expansion, and to set the story straight when the truth is concealed. We have appeared on Anglia TV, BBC Look East, 3 Counties Radio and Jack FM. National and local newspapers are picking up on the story and we provide links to the latest online articles and campaigns.
“HALE is helping to put the other side of the Luton expansion story in front of the media.”
Our motivation: HALE involves people who passionately believe that further expansion of Luton Airport is untenable given its location, and the already serious impact of noise and transport congestion on local communities. We all know how much of a bad neighbour this airport has been: flight trials running directly over communities, night flights which cut across local villages in the small hours with no control, noise which is increasing year by year because heavier aircraft are being introduced into the flight mix.
“The public is telling us that Luton Airport has been a really bad neighbour to local communities – it should have been doing a lot more to control its impact.”
Our proposals: HALE agrees with easyJet that Luton Airport should reinvest some of the money it makes to improve the passenger experience. Gridlocked access roads, long security check queues, tatty departure sheds, excessive immigration queues all speak of an airport which is poorly run, and not being managed for the benefit of its users. Fixing these things would create jobs. We believe that other job-creating initiatives could be produced to attract inward investment and increase Luton’s prosperity rather than flogging the one asset. Diversification is far more likely to deliver a stable future than gambling on airport growth meeting out-of-date targets.
“We believe putting Luton’s economic eggs into one basket is not wise – true strength lies in diversity.”
Next steps and pointers to useful information:
1) For more background showing how Luton Airport is such a bad neighbour, click these links to have a look at our pages on increasing noise, flight tracks, poor ecology and night flights.
2) For information on the futureLuToN consultation process and suggestions for questions we are concerned about see our pages on consultation experience and consultation questions
3) For information on the rival proposal from LLAOL see our pages on the rival plan and its impact summary
There is a step-by-step guide to registering your questions and concerns which we will update as the process continues – see What can I do?
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