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11 February 2013, 06:00
The MP for Hitchin and Harpenden has told Heart it cannot be right that Luton Council - which has a vested interest in a bigger Luton Airport - can be left to preside of the expansion plans.
Peter Lilley MP told Heart: "A number of important issues were raised at the meeting, including what options exist for taking the planning decision away from Luton Council, which will give most opportunity for local views to be expressed, the launch of a new campaign to ban night flights, and whether emissions standards might be breached by the increased number of flights. I will be taking all of these up with the Department on behalf of the protesters."
In a message to the meeting Peter Lilley said, “I am aware from my postbag of the general concerns of people across the constituency about these proposals. It is clearly outrageous to most people that Luton Council is both the planning authority and the prime beneficiary from expansion of the airport. It is vital that this decision be seen to be independent if it is to command public support.
Mr Lilley added: “The most widespread concerns are about increased noise from additional flights and the impact on local infrastructure and congestion of millions more passengers annually, and I have been giving a lot of thought about the best tactics to get the best overall deal for my constituents.
We know that the Operator had doubts about the business case for expansion on the scale and speed that the Owner – Luton Council – wanted and only put forward plans when the Council threatened to exercise a break clause in the lease. We may be able to exploit the fact that the economic case for expansion on this scale and pace is weak. But it would be unwise to hope that there is no economic case for any expansion at all or that the business case may disappear if other options around London emerge."
Mr Lilley concluded: "The best tactic will be to argue that expansion should only be allowed if, and to the extent that, the plans can be made environmentally tolerable, making the operator demonstrate plans a) to mitigate the noise created by more planes by introducing quieter planes or better routing, and b) that will enhance the infrastructure to cope with the extra traffic generated on both roads and rail. We could also seize the opportunity to insist that all night flights should end – with Luton coming under the same night flight regime as the other London Airports."