In February 2019 a cross party task and finish group was set up by Luton Borough Council specifically to look at the effects of the airport’s whole operations on air quality, on the local communities around it, and the town in general. The Councillors concerned put a huge amount of time and effort into gaining specialist knowledge of these effects, with specific interest in particulate matter and nitrous oxides. These are pollutants that are prevalent in many forms of lung disease and breathing complications, particularly in the young.
Alongside this expert advice, local schools and residents also came forward to be part of the research for this group. As we know, Luton suffers significantly higher air pollution levels than many other bigger towns and cities, and LBC has declared an ambition to be Net Carbon Zero by 2040 and has called for residents to come forward and help them achieve that goal. This goal does not however, cover Luton Airport, either in its current size or its expansion plans to double that, as planned by LBC itself. The Council has said it will continue working with itself via LLAL, its airport company, and the airport operator to achieve the best results possible.
This task and finish group presented its final paper to the Executive Committee of LBC in mid-September. It comprised nineteen in depth recommendations for moving forward on the subject and cutting these harmful emissions. At this Executive Meeting, it was decided to just highly recommend four of these, and note the rest.
Whilst we shouldn’t be surprised by this, we cannot fail once again to wonder why the laissez-faire attitude of this Committee does not extend to its airport company, LLAL, as it seems to do with all other attempts to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the residents of Luton, and those neighbouring areas affected by its “can do no wrong” airport.
No doubt a key reason given will be finances, yet this month that same Committee waved through in strictest secrecy the £60 million loan to LLAL to be able to continue to pay off the debts on its twin delusional projects of the DART and airport expansion planning costs.
We thank the Councillors who have been involved on the air quality group, for their diligence and grasp of what is a very complex subject, and the results they submitted which would take seriously the pollution problems from the airport and of the town in general.
As for the members of the LBC Executive Committee, you keep ignoring all the town’s issues and concentrate on your Golden Child airport, but then again that won’t be hard as you always do.