Following the cancellation of the special meeting of Luton Council’s Development Control Committee, which had been due to take place this Thursday, Peter Lilley MP has renewed his call for the planning application to be reviewed by an independent body rather than the Council, which owns the airport.
“I welcome the fact that Luton Council’s Development Control Committee has postponed the meeting to consider Luton Airport’s expansion plans, which it had arranged (with inadequate notice) for Thursday 21st November,” said Peter.
“It is vital that everybody has a proper opportunity to express their views and that the concerns of local residents are fully considered by the Committee. However, I maintain that Luton Borough Council should not be making this decision as the Council itself is the prime beneficiary from expansion of the airport. I have repeatedly urged the Secretary of State to transfer the decision to a more independent planning body so that the final decision is both fair and seen to be fair. It is vital that this decision be seen to be independent if it is to command public support.
“In any case, should this planning application be approved by the Council, we understand that it will be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit to consider the environmental impact assessment as the project might have a significant impact on the environment. They will decide whether the application should be referred to the Secretary of State to make the final decision or left to the Council.
“The most widespread local concerns are about increased noise from additional flights and the impact on local infrastructure and congestion of millions more passengers using the airport. I believe that knee-jerk opposition to any expansion will fail. The best tactic will be to argue that expansion should only be allowed if, and to the extent that, the plans can be made environmentally tolerable by introducing quieter planes and better routing, and enhancing the infrastructure to cope with the extra traffic generated on both roads and rail.”