Action group slams ‘expensive charade’ on Luton airport expansion meeting

London Luton Airport.
London Luton Airport.

The controversial decision by Luton Borough Council to approve the expansion of London Luton Airport has been criticised by a community action group.

Michael Nidd, secretary of the London Luton Airport Town and Village Community Committee, has described the delayed, eight-hour meeting in which the decision was made as a “very, very expensive charade” which included presentations about the airport throughout the morning on Friday, December 20.

Mr Nidd also pointed to the fact that just six of the development control committee’s 11 members attended the meeting, which had already been postponed.

This came after Herts County Council demanded a second, impartial, legal opinion on Luton Borough Council’s suitability to make the decision, given it owns all of the shares in the airport.

The Piccotts End resident said: “Only six of them bothered to turn up, and we had hours and hours of very highly-paid people in the morning saying what a splendid scheme it is, but when it came time to debate, discuss and vote they spent as long as 10 minutes on it.

“Effectively the airport owner is also the body which decides whether or not the expansion can go ahead.

“It seems a bit of a denial of justice that the borough should be the one to have the say - particularly on the strength of 10 minutes’ discussion by six local worthies - on whether to go ahead with something which has such colossal effects on all the surrounding communities.”

The expansion, which will see airport capacity increased from 12 million to 18 million passengers a year, was approved in principle but will now be reviewed by the Department for Communities and Local Government to see whether it needs to be determined by the Secretary of State or if the council can proceed to issue consent.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning has written to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, to request that the decision be called in, on the basis that the people who would suffer the most from the increase in flights and traffic would be people in his constituency, as well as Stevenage and surrounding areas.