Press Release from Friends of Wigmore Park & Stop Luton Airport Expansion

We will be attending COP26 in Glasgow on Wednesday 10th November to advertise our cause to a wider national and international audience, why, well ….

Our group seeks to protect our local Wigmore Valley Park (WVP) from Luton Borough Council (LBC) plans to build car parks, roads and a new airport terminal over it for airport expansion. WVP is a well used community green space land and includes an established irreplaceable County Wildlife Site.

There is no need to build over the park as sufficient brown space exists within the current airport footprint, which with innovative, inexpensive, thought and design, achieves expansion aims. This would leave WVP to be the green buffer zone between the pollution of airport operations (as it has been for forty years) and the local housing which sits along the Eastern and Northern boundaries of the park.

Luton Airport is the Bedfordshire’s worst polluter (1) and Luton as a town has above national average cases of respiratory disorders (2).  By destroying green space, this will make those health issues even  worse (3).  Luton lacks the recommended amount of green space as specified by the World Health Organisation (4).

Public consultation on airport expansion returned a clear “no expansion” message (5), which was rejected by LBC – as were the options to build on brown site land.  Instead, LBC decided on the easier option of building on our park.  Commercial gain is deemed more important than protecting green space, biodiversity and Climate Change.  The park is a popular local amenity and contributes to the general health of the local population.

As the owner of Luton Airport, LBC and has borrowed hundreds of millions of pounds to pursue expansion, and it is now in deep in debt.  LBC have also ignored yearly auditors advice (6) not to put all their eggs into one basket and when the airport struggles so does employment, local services funding, donations to charities and the surrounding economy that rely on this single funding stream.  Following the pandemic and collapse of the travel industry LBC blamed everyone but themselves for suddenly being in a predicament (7).  Sir David Attenborough  predicts that further pandemics, weather extremes or other similar events will occur (8) and LBC would be wise to take heed.

To hide decisions on funding airport projects from the public, LBC use the Local Government Act of 1972 to avoid public scrutiny (9).  All planning airport related infrastructure changes are approved by the councils own Development Control Committee (10).

Although LBC have declared a Climate Change Emergency that action plan (11) excludes Luton Airport with the airport making their own plans to combat airport Co2 emissions.  99% of pre Covid Co2 emissions came from aircraft movements and vehicle traffic both inside and outside the perimeter.  (12) which excludes airplanes and flight pollution.  An extended airport encourages more planes, more flights, more people and more road traffic, hence more climate change and pollution issues.  Luton has a carbon footprint of 773 kilo tonnes of Co2 (estimated) per annum (13) whilst an Independent public assessment gives a figure of 2.2 MILLION kilo tonnes Co2 (estimated) per annum for those emissions from aircraft movements alone (14). 

The Annual Public Heath Report for 2018 (15), produced by the Director of Health of LBC, actually states that LBC ownership of the airport presents a challenge in terms of potentially adverse environmental and social public impacts, but provides an additional source of income that supports Council and community projects.

Again monetary income is more important than controlling and tackling the source of three quarters of the Co2 emissions for the town of Luton.  LBC have allowed it’s airport company, London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), to amass such levels of debt in pursuing airport expansion, that it cannot actually contribute any revenue to its health and other service budgets, because what income it is receiving needs to be diverted to pay off the interest and debts, and keep LLAL a solvent going concern, for the foreseeable future. 

Photo by Steve Merchant :


Wigmore Valley Park Facts

  • Depending on council sources, Wigmore Valley Park (WVP) is between a 28.3 to 34 hectares mature mixed park which sits on the eastern edge of Luton, Bedfordshire.  The park contains a County Wildlife Site (15.4 hectares) and is identified as an Area of Local Landscape Value (16).  The park has been owned by the Council since 1954 and is located 2.5 km south east of Luton at Grid Reference TL 125218 and lies directly east of the airport. The Council issued a ‘Licence to occupy’ in 2017 to its own airport company, London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) which is up for renewal on November 11th (17).  Neighbouring Hertfordshire Parish Councils have registered the park as an Asset of Community Value.
  • The park has its own Facebook social media site with 2.9k members and is represented at the Luton Friends of Parks and Greenspaces group.
  • We estimate that 16.5 million living creatures reside on the County Wildlife Site (CWS).  At least 30 species of trees, with each tree supporting between 21 to 284 insect species (18), with many more animal, bird species and other living things all using the trees as a critical life support system.  To put this figure into context, this number represents 1.5 times the human population of London.


1. Bedfordshire worst polluter – Luton Airport & University of Birmingham report – Luton air pollution

2. Luton Borough Council – Air Quality Action Plan 2017

3. Public Health England – Local Authority Health Profile 2019

4. Fields in TrustWHO report – Recommended Greenspace page 18.

5. Future Luton – Non Statutory Consultation Report  search on ” no “.

6. Eggs in one basket You Tube – Auditors comments from 05:30 minutes in.

7. LBC Emergency Budget webinar Youtube – 17/06/2020  video released by LBC Chief Exec and two councillors.

8. A life on Our Planet by Sir David Attenborough. Page 103 onwards.

9. Stop Luton Airport Expansion – Freedom of Information request Dart request.

10. Luton Borough Council – Planning Portal search using Advanced, Description keywords, “airport” and “LLAL”.

11. Luton Borough Council – Draft Climate Change Action Plan

12. Luton Borough Council – Draft Climate Change Action Plan page 46.

13. Luton Borough Council – Draft Climate Change Action Plan page 8.

14. Earthbound report – Climate Impact of Luton Airport 

15. Luton Borough Council – Public Health report 2018 page 27.

16. Collated from numerous Luton Borough Council reports found under planning and strategy Luton Borough Council Web Site

17. Luton Borough Council minutes – Wigmore Valley Lease  Luton Borough Council Exec minutes – Wigmore Valley lease  search on lease.

18. 16.5 million calculated by taking the number of trees on the CWS documented by the Pell Frischmann report of 2010 and using various UK web sites such as The Woodlands Trust to identify the number of insect species dependant on a tree. Then take the number of insects in a hectare and multiply the numbers to reach 16.5 million.

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