Below is a link to Hansard, where all the debates held within the House of Commons are recorded, and the specific link to the recent debate regarding the proposed expansion of Luton Airport.
It is encouraging to witness the Members of Parliament for St Albans, Hitchin and Harpenden and North East Bedfordshire standing up and stating the patently obvious flaws in airport expansion plans. They discussed both the current pending Planning Applications by the airport operator LLAOL (to go to 19 million passengers per annum, and to ignore the noise contour restrictions imposed as a requisite of the last expansion to 18 million passengers), and the larger plans by LLAL (to expand to 36 million passengers).
The MPs stated, quite rightly, that the quality of life of those living with the current airport operations must be upheld and maintained. LLAOL and LLAL however, only see commercial income as their ambition with anyone in the way as collateral damage.
We would have thought that the two Members of Parliament for Luton would have asked to speak to support expansion in this debate, as they take every opportunity to say how it is crucial to the town of Luton that the airport is allowed to grow, both for local employment and the towns’ economy.
Maybe they decided not to this time, because as we’ve shown previously, that the current indecent haste to grow has not produced a single new permanent job position since 2013. Luton Council now finds itself in dire financial circumstances as it has allowed airport income to be used for debt servicing on fanciful projects, like the DART, rather than enhancing services and facilities for Luton residents.
The reply from the Under Secretary for Transport however was the usual wishy washy reply that we have come to expect when aviation issues are discussed by Ministers. The third paragraph of his reply could well have been lifted straight from the LLAL promotion blurb. It paints Luton Airport as some sort of global player on a par with the Heathrow/Gatwick/Amsterdam/Frankfurt’s etc truly global operations and in being crucial to national wealth. As we know, it is in fact an over inflated regional facility that relies solely on East European labour import markets and holiday and weekend-break traffic.
If the UK Government does not want to set a “do as we say, not as we do” example at the UN Climate Change Conference it hosts in Glasgow in November this year, it now has to slide off the fence and make a definitive decision on aviation expansion in the UK. Its Aviation 2050 document, which triggered the feeding frenzy among UK airports to get their noses in the trough of expansion, as the two main London airports were at capacity is now a distant memory. No one knows what aviation and the demand for air travel will be like in the future as the world adapts to living with Covid-19 and its many variants.
Surely now is our opportunity to start with a blank sheet of paper and ensure that aviation obeys its obligation to those who live with its intrusions and pollutions, rather than those who make billions in shareholders’ dividends?
Stop Luton Airport Expansion