Luton Airport Expansion Plans

18th October 2019

Anne spoke to BBC Three Counties Radio this week to set out her views on Luton Airport’s expansion plans. You can read the transcript below or listen to the interview here.

BBC Three Counties Radio – The JVS Show - 16th October 2019

Release Date: 16 Oct 2019 Available for 28 days


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Jonathan Vernon-Smith [JVS]: 

Anne Main is the Conservative MP for St Albans. Good morning to you, Anne.

Anne Main [AM]: Morning Jonathon.

JVS: Do you support the Expansion plans?

AM:   Absolutely Not, I don’t support it - and what’s more – of course the figures we are talking about - the extra [expansion to] 33 Million [passengers per year] - what we need to put in place is looking at the fact that there was only a projected 12.5 Million expansion up to “at the moment” [October 2019]. We are now up to 18 Million. Obviously they are expanding far more quickly than they suggest - so I am sure those figures for 33 Million would be reached even more quickly than they are projecting.

JVS: But then, doesn’t that in many ways just prove that the extra flights are needed?

AM What it proves is that there is a demand to fly and what it proves is that, really, that we need to be considering how often we need to fly and where we need to fly – but also what it proves is that you can’t trust Luton Airport on their projection figures.

So, it is really very worrying. I know that they [Luton] are talking about benefits to the local community, but well, St Albans. I don’t think they take any notice of what happens in St Albans. We get all the negativity of the overflying and certainly we don’t get any benefitsThe only thing we get is extra pollution and extra noise.

JVS: Derek from Kings Langley said “People who are unhappy about it, Tough! People in St Albans shouldn’t have moved to St Albans - they knew they were just down the road from Luton Airport. If you don’t like it, put your house on the market and move somewhere else”.

AM: Well, with all due respect to Derek -who may or may not be my constituent - because it is an area I share with Mike [Sir Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead]I have to say that what we need to be talking about, as well, is the new RNAV routes. We have had new routes which have moved the noise corridor into different areas - so it is not exactly a case of ‘you buy next to somewhere and that’s [aircraft noise disturbance] an exactly fixed position’.  The RNAV routes - which are currently being looked at - have actually shifted some of the traffic elsewhere – and that is very worrying – I took a group of STAQS (St Albans Quieter Skies) [a St Albans residents group] who are also part of LADACAN and we met with the Aviation Minister, Paul Maynard, yesterday (15th October 2019) because the review, The Post Implementation Review of RNAV [Luton Airport’s revised GPS Route] was due in February [this year]. It’s been a huge fudge. We’ve not heard anything back from it - and I actually laid it on the line with the new Minister today (who was very sympathetic, I have to say) that it is just not good enough that they [Luton Airport and the UK air industry] can hide behind these figures and we don’t get to know what they are.

[The RNAV route changes were implemented in August 2015 and the review and final decision has been delayed multiple times since then].

So I want to know what the Post Implementation Review is, and we haven’t had that yet – and I’m also pleased that the Minister agreed yesterday that he would try to arrange a meeting with NATS [UK Air Traffic Control] for those who take a keen interest and a technical interest in this to discuss flight paths because it is complex, I accept that. This is about flights overflying from Heathrow which is keeping some of the flight paths cluttered up with stacking and so on.

JVS:  In St Albans you are particularly affected by that. I know you get flights from Luton, you get flights from Heathrow and they are kind of criss-crossing in the sky.

AM: Yes, We absolutely do. And I hadn’t noticed that St Albans was slap bang next to Heathrow - and it’s 22 miles from Luton!  Let’s be brutally honest here, none of my constituents chose to buy [a house] near an airport. A lot of my constituents are now being affected by the decisions of those airports – and that is something we really need to listen to – and I think my constituents are being ignored.

JVS: But a lot of your constituents also fly from Luton Airport, so you can’t have it both ways, can you?

AM: I have actually been told that by Luton Airport. I think that is a pretty fatuous argument - as you were pointing out to Derek [earlier]. I have also been told [by Luton Airport] that it is good for its shareholders for Luton to expand!

We, as a country, need to be starting examining if we really need to make as many flights as we do. Even your caller [Derek] only flew once or twice a year on his holidays. Ok - you can’t go on a holiday without actually getting on the plane necessarily - if that’s where your destination takes you - BUT many business meetings could be done over the internet and so on. And I think we’ve got to look at a different way of doing things.

Just simply adding more and more planes into the sky, more and more noise pollution, more and more aviation pollution - when we are trying to tackle some of the problems affecting our environment, it’s simply just not the way to go. We’ve got to look at a different way of doing things.

JVS: Have you had a chat with Grant Shapps [The Secretary of State for Transport, MP for Welwyn Hatfield] about this? - Because ultimately, he’s going to be the one who is going to make the decision on this.

AM: Well, as I said, I talked to the Aviation Minister yesterday - and Grant knows as much as Mike [about Hertfordshire’s rapidly increasing aircraft noise issues].

As Mike said (I heard your interview with him), Grant has similar issues over his area as well. He is fully aware. We’ve had debates on this – of the views of the local MPs in Hertfordshire - and Paul Maynard [The Aviation Minister, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.] was under no illusion that I thought the “Judge and Jury” approach from Luton Borough Council certainly wasn’t good enough.

And I think the other thing that we are not taking into account is that: This passenger expansion, which I said, has been massively rapid – The planes (the modern planes) which are supposed to help deal with a lot of these problems haven’t caught up. They haven’t been brought on line quick enough. So, the expansion has gone off exponentially and the [quieter, more efficient] planes haven’t been brought online.

So, we’ve got a double whammy of more noise and more noisy fuel guzzling planes delivering that noise and delivering those extra passengers.

That has got to be the worst thing for the environment.

JVS: Anne Main, thank you very much indeed. Anne Main is the Conservative MP for St Albans.


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