Development Consent Order (DCO) – An Update

As we have reported, little has been made public about the progress of the DCO Application over the past twelve months, apart from the “green growth only” mantra maintained by London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), those behind this scheme.  The project has a budget of £50 million covering all aspects, whilst the actual expansion costs would run into billions of pounds.  The initial sum is funded by loans to LLAL from Luton Borough Council, and the expansion costs themselves would form part of the next concession agreement in 2031. 

At the London Luton Airport Consultative Committee meeting of 19th April, however, the LLAL representative made known that the DCO will now not be resubmitted until 2022.  No specific dates were given, and mention was made that the plans may require a complete new round of public consultation events.

On the following day, Central Government announced their plan to set in law the world’s most ambitious climate change targets, to cut emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels.  The UK’s sixth Carbon Budget will, for the first time, include emissions from international aviation and shipping.

As we have mentioned previously, the direct control aspect of carbon emissions for the Luton Airport operator/owners, is 4% of all carbon emissions produced – the bulk, of course, being produced by aircraft and vehicle access/on site use. Whilst the ownership of electric vehicles is growing, it is still an expensive option to most.  So the new plans from LLAL will no doubt say that the vehicles that will bring the new 14 million passengers to the airport will be electric, and a proportion of those passengers will choose to use rail when the DART link is operational, so they will be cutting carbon emissions and therefore expansion will not add to their carbon footprint. 

This is, of course, pure supposition of a very expensively arrived at solution.  They have no idea as to what means of transport any passenger growth would use. There is also within the proposals currently a total reliance on North-South airport access, as the rail and road networks only run those directions.  East-West access has been all but ignored, so any passengers from those directions will be left with personal vehicles as the prime choice. These routes run through the villages surrounding Luton, and then through residential areas once within the town boundaries.

As for the aircraft that will bring expansion, yes they are more environmentally friendly than aircraft from the 1990’s (the benchmark the Government wish to reset to) but they are still a long way from being emissions neutral.  Electric or other energy source engine technology for large aircraft is still very much in its infancy. Bio and other synthetic fuels are also in development, but cost considerably more than current fossil-based fuels, and indeed cause environmental concerns with the land size required to grow bio fuels. Increasing aircraft movements will increase pollution, and there is no logical “green growth only” solution to that fact.

Against this welcomed Government decision, how can the continued spend of badly-needed Luton Borough Council funds for services, be still on going?

Why do we have to continue for months to see money wasted on a project that at its start was akin to a very poor high school exam submission, and now has even less relevance in the fight against climate change?

Be the bigger citizens LBC/LLAL, Stop Luton Airport Expansion Now.                     

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