Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today attacked proposals made by the company which runs Luton Airport to expand it to the size of Heathrow. The plans were released as a response to the Government?s consultation, which was extended last week following a successful challenge in the High Court.

    Peter Lilley said:

    “Luton Airport?s suggestion that it could be expanded to the size of Heathrow is ludicrous.

    “The site is wholly unsuitable: it already suffers more frequent closure for weather reasons than other airports. It alone has no rail link direct into the airport. Unlike Stansted, Heathrow or Gatwick, expansion at Luton would need massive and entirely uncosted infrastructure building ? including a new motorway and rail link across Hertfordshire, which would destroy the local environment between Harpenden and Hitchin.

    “I can only conclude that the Airport authorities are alarmed at the massively growing criticism of the Government?s original proposal to expand the airport to 31 million passengers a year. They hope that by putting forward this intolerable option to expand it to 70 million passengers they will make the original option seem less unacceptable.

    “They will fail. It is clear that the biggest problem arising from growing air travel ? even worse than the noise of a jumbo jet flying over Hitchin and Harpenden every minute ? is the traffic it generates. Much of that cross county traffic would not be necessary if expansion is concentrated at the minimum number of hub airports.

    “To create a fourth hub airport, as TBI proposes, would be counter productive. In any case Luton would be the worst location. It can serve a function for charter and low cost short haul flights but it was never intended to be a major long haul airport and is quite unsuitable to become one.?