Luton ‘out-pacing’ Herts Council in legal expertise over opposition to airport expansion
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Luton Rising – the owner of London Luton Airport – has applied to increase the annual number of passengers using the airport from 19m to 32m a year.
And that application is currently being examined by the Planning Inspectorate, as a ‘National Significant Infrastructure Project’.
At a budget scrutiny meeting Conservative Cllr Sarah Tallon suggested that Luton Borough Council – through Luton Rising – was ‘out-pacing’ Hertfordshire County Council, in terms of legal expertise.
That’s the claim made although it was stressed Herts Council’s approach had been ‘detailed and professional’ – focussing on a technical response – and that the approach ‘has been right’.
And Cllr Tallon asked for reassurances that the council’s opposition to Luton Airport’s expansion plans was ‘robust’ and ‘financially sustainable’.
At the meeting executive member for sustainable growth Cllr Stephen Boulton accepted that there were people who would like the council’s opposition to be more ‘vigorous’.
But he stressed that the council’s approach had been ‘detailed and professional’ – focussing on a technical response – and that the approach ‘has been right’.
He also reassured the meeting that he thought there was enough funding to complete what they were doing.
“I know some people would have liked us to be more, you might say, vigorous,” said Cllr Boulton.
“But I don’t think the outcome will depend on that.
“The outcome depends on the proper technical response to each of the individual parts of the inquiry. And I think that’s where we are.”
In response to a further question, director of growth and place Colin Haigh said the council was opposing the environmental impacts of the proposed airport development.
He highlighted the carbon and the noise and the pollution from the aviation activities.
And he pointed to the congestion and the impact on the highway network and the access network to the airport and and the impact on Hertfordshire.
He also suggested that while opposing the scheme they were also seeking as many mitigations and benefits for Hertfordshire, should the project be approved.
He suggested that if the scheme was ultimately approved – with the final decision to be taken by the Secretary of State – there ‘may well be a large pot of funding’ for those roads that were experiencing congestion.
“We would rather see this resisted entirely,” said Mr Haigh.
“But it’s those sorts of things we are also seeking to make sure that we can resolve any issues that arise.
“Particularly within the planning debate we want to make sure firstly we are arguing against and setting out why it is inappropriate, why it has too much impact.
“But if we are not successful with that activity then there are lots of mitigations and limits and planning conditions within any potential approval to make sure that Hertfordshire isn’t adversely affected.”