Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today welcomed a key concession in the government?s revised Airport Consultation document which downgrades their plan for a new long runway at Luton Airport to an ?option? rather than an ?assumption?. This follows a concerted local campaign and threats of legal action to force the Government to change the status of its proposals. Mr. Lilley said the revised document also deeply undermines the case for any new runway at Luton. But he warned that we must not relax until the governments proposals are withdrawn.

    Peter Lilley said after the release of the new document:

    “We may have won a battle, but we still have to win the war over expansion proposals for Luton. I welcome the change of status in the revised consultation document. This follows months of lobbying and campaigning to change the status of the Government?s proposals. It concedes that a new long runway should be a policy option, rather than an assumption. Credit must go to Hertfordshire County Council for threatening legal action, without which the Government might not have changed its course.

    “The new document further undermines the case for expansion at Luton. On the Government?s own cost-benefit analysis the most attractive options ? involving development of existing hub airports – would result in the throughput of Luton being reduced to 12 million passengers per year by 2030. There would therefore be no point in expanding the airport at huge financial and environmental cost to take 31 million passengers per year. In fact the Government virtually admits that expected growth elsewhere would make a longer runway on a new alignment pointless (see paragraph 10.6, page 91).

    “We must press home the case for setting environmental restrictions on noise and traffic congestion to limit future expansion at Luton even using the existing runway.

    “It is disappointing that the Government has not revised its projections for passenger growth significantly, despite the evidence I produced that previous exercises of this kind grossly over-estimated future growth and the need for new runways.

    “John Spellar, the Transport Minister, postponed the meeting he was due to have with me on 26th February until after the publication of the new document. When we meet next week, I shall seize the opportunity to drive home the fact that his new analysis further undermines the case for massive expansion at Luton. Meanwhile I shall study the revised document further and discuss it with all interested local bodies.

    “It is vital that the campaign against excessive expansion at Luton continues throughout the consultation period which ends on 30th June. I urge people to write to the Department of Transport making their feelings clear about over-expansion at Luton.?