As part of ambitious plans to expand the UK’s fifth largest airport, Luton Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) has expressed its desire to build a second terminal.
Airport bosses hopes expansion will see passenger numbers soar from 18 million to 32 million a year with the “preferred option” built beyond north of the runway, on Wigmore Valley Park.
To compensate for the partial use of the park, the airport has pledged to provide new parkland and open space over a larger area to the east of the existing park.
After launching the initial consultation last summer, residents are still able to have their say until the autumn with LLAL scheduled to submit its final plan to the government by mid-2020 for the transport secretary Chris Grayling to have the final say.
Andy Malcolm, chair of LLAL, said there was “a unique opportunity” to support growth of the local, sub-regional and national economies, and the council’s transformation of our town.
The chair said: “We are excited to be able to present our preferred option which responds to our first public consultation and outlines how we can move towards making the best use of our existing single runway in line with government policy, deliver maximum benefit to the local, regional and national economy, and actively manage environmental impacts.
Responding to environmental concerns, Malcolm said the preferred option protects large amounts of green area.
He added: “Our preferred option safeguards as much land as possible within Wigmore Valley Park, and provides a new footprint for the parkland and open space which is 10 per cent bigger than the existing and positioned further away from the runway than it is at the moment. We will also deliver significant improvements to facilities in the retained part of the park. We have also worked to constrain the extent of development required in the green belt.”
But campaigners and Luton councillors have voiced their concerns to the expansion plan. Members of the group Friends of Wigmore Park are campaigning due to fears that the proposals will have a negative impact on the local environment and surrounding countryside.
Scott Stalham, chair of Friends of Wigmore Park, said: “We would see a massive increase in traffic. London, Manchester and Birmingham are the only places busier and more congested than Luton. It’s such a big cause of air pollution, both from aircraft and traffic. Children growing up here have to walk to school past all the congested traffic, which causes long-term health effects such as chronic respiratory diseases.”