Council reveals new terminal plan for Luton airport

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Luton Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) has today published its preferred option for the growth of the UK’s fifth largest and fastest growing major airport.

Using the existing runway, LLAL is targeting expansion of the airport to 32 million passengers per annum (mppa) from its current cap of 18 mppa. The preferred option would involve construction of a new second terminal to the north of the runway. To compensate for the partial use of Wigmore Valley Park, new parkland and open space would be provided over a larger area to the east of the existing park.

The company has also published technical reports which outline the feedback received during the first period of consultation last summer, and how its expert advisors have continued to assess the options for development in the light of comments made.

The proposals are of a scale that require an application to the government for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to authorise the expansion.

Over the coming months LLAL will work up the preferred option into proposals that will form the basis of statutory consultation on the proposed DCO application. Consultation is planned to take place in the autumn, and will include key strategies to minimise and mitigate impacts on the environment.

It is expected that the DCO application will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in mid-2020. The final decision will rest with the Secretary of State of Transport.

Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of LLAL, said: “We are excited to be able to present our preferred option which responds to our first public consultation and outlines how we can move towards making the best use of our existing single runway in line with government policy, deliver maximum benefit to the local, regional and national economy, and actively manage environmental impacts.

“In our Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-50, published in December 2017, we outlined that the maximum capacity of the runway could be up to 36-38 mppa. How this might be best achieved was the focus of the consultation we carried out during 2018. It remains our assessment and aspiration that the airport can deliver these volumes in the longer term.

“However, in our judgment, at this stage our preferred option for growth to 32 mppa best reflects our determination to get the balance absolutely right between the economic benefits and environmental impacts associated with airport expansion. It is also consistent with feedback people have provided about impacts, such as on road use and green belt land.”

Feedback showed support for LLAL’s strategy to make the best use of its existing single runway, and for its emerging preferred option for two terminals north of the runway. The most common issues raised included noise, flight paths, air quality and how people will get to and from the airport.

Cllr Malcolm said: “We know that our airport will be operating close to the current planning limit in 2019, and that the Department for Transport has identified a shortfall of circa 60 million aviation passenger journeys by 2050 across the UK. We have a unique opportunity as the owner of London Luton Airport to support growth of the local, sub-regional and national economies, and the council’s transformation of our town.

“Our preferred option safeguards as much land as possible within Wigmore Valley Park, and provides a new footprint for the parkland and open space which is 10 per cent bigger than the existing and positioned further away from the runway than it is at the moment. We will also deliver significant improvements to facilities in the retained part of the park. We have also worked to constrain the extent of development required in the green belt.”

London Luton Airport is expected to handle 17.7 million passengers in 2019 and at its current rate of growth is projected to reach its current maximum permitted capacity of 18 mppa by 2020.

In 2017 the airport generated £1.3bn benefit to the national economy, including £895m within Luton, and supported nearly 10,000 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs within the three counties of Beds, Bucks and Herts.

Cllr Malcolm added: “The airport is a key driver for the success of the whole region, generating more than £2,300 in economic benefit every minute, and we are committed to ensuring that everyone can share the benefits.

“At the same time that we present more detailed proposals in the autumn, we will also outline how we propose to develop further the support we provide for communities in areas impacted by airport operations.

“There is now a lot more work for us to do make sure our proposals are the very best they can be, and to mitigate and minimise the full range of environmental impacts that respondents to the consultation have helped us to identify.

“We are committed to continuing the conversation with all our nearby residents, businesses and other stakeholders, and look forward to consulting with you again in the autumn.”