The formal application process for Luton’s airport expansion has begun, with documents filed with the Planning Inspectorate at the end of February. This confirms the plan to grow the airport from the current cap of 18 million passengers a year to 32 million. A new terminal will be built to accomodate these numbers.
As a result of the consultation on the project, the plan now includes increased environmental protections and a ‘Green Controlled Growth’ framework. However, this only deals with the local effects of noise, traffic, air pollution and ground-based carbon emissions.
Climate change is of course a global phenomenon, so it is not enough to only focus on local effects. The biggest source of emissions is from the flights themselves, which the airport takes no responsibility for. Expanding Luton airport will result in an enormous increase in emissions at a time of climate crisis, regardless of the Green Controlled Growth strategy.
Because the airport’s plans are such a major infrastructure project, full permission rests with central government rather than the council. The submission will be reviewed by a panel of five planning inspectors. They will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision on the airport expansion.