Changes to the flight path at Luton airport. Have you had your say?

21st January 2021

Responses are due by 5th February 2021.

You may already be aware that London Luton Airport are proposing to change the arrival flight paths into Luton airport. This involves creating a new holding stack for incoming flights above the Huntingdon / Grafham Water area and changing the routes planes approach the Airport.

 

Impact one

The new routes mean planes will start to fly over areas of Bedfordshire at much lower levels than before.

The main areas affected are shown edged red below. This is the newly affected area where flights will be descending below 8,000 ft.

Impact two

One of the proposals is to route the planes over tight corridors which means planes will fly much more frequently over these areas than previously – at least one plane every six minutes in peak times.

You can see the detail of all of these proposals here.

The proposed corridors known as Option 2 are shown in Figures 12- 15 p38-41 in the consultation document.

 

CPRE is completely opposed to the proposed changes to the London Luton Airport Arrivals and is calling for the consultation to be withdrawn. We outline the key reasons for this below.

Loss of tranquillity and noise pollution

The proposed new arrivals hold is over an area that is largely tranquil with minimal background noise. Many people have chosen to live in this area based on its tranquillity and the impacts would be great and annoyance significant. There is currently little aviation activity and it is at high altitude. The consultation does not provide enough information to allow communities to understand the noise impact this proposal would bring.

As aircraft leave the stack into the proposed funnel – those living under the flightpath would be massively impacted with frequent, concentrated overflying – including Abbotsley, Gamlingay and Potton.

We are also concerned about the impact on the health of a large part of the population of Huntingdonshire and Bedfordshire. The World Health Organisation has said that aircraft noise above 45dB in the day and 40dB at night are associated with adverse effects on sleep and health.

 

Prematurity

In 2010 NATS withdrew proposals for an air hold stack over Cambridgeshire due to the downturn in air traffic as a result of the financial crisis and while a review of the airspace in Southern England was being undertaken. The current review of air space has now been paused as a result of the Covid pandemic which has seen a massive drop in air traffic of over 67%. The levels of air traffic are not predicted to return to 2019 levels until at least 2024/5. The consultation we strongly believe is incorrect in its assumption traffic will return by 2022

The proposal of a new stacking hold is an out of date concept which conflicts with wider government aviation policy. Other alternatives are now being developed and if aviation does return to pre-Covid levels there is time to implement these technologies. These proposals are premature and should be withdrawn.

 

Trust

CPRE is concerned that the consultation does not meet or consider recognised industry standards and toolkits. The pandemic has meant there has been limited ability to ensure a wide consultation engagement, with that limited to digital – which has left out many the impacted population. The survey does not ask a question on the proposed hold and does not allow an objection. The noise data and impacts for those within the proposed hold area is inadequate and at worse misleading and does not come across as being open and honest. The noise data that is provided is difficult to navigate and not easy to understand the impact of frequency, cumulative, seasonal, day/night etc. The noise maps provided in the consultation document are not legible with no geographic locations discernible.

As part of their proposed expansion plans LLA states that stacking will be abandoned and consideration of avoiding populated areas and ‘quiet areas’ (to be defined through the airspace design process) will be undertaken during the redesign of LTN airspace. This has been completely ignored in the proposed arrival changes.

Climate change and air pollution

The UK’s Net Zero Carbon target has been incorporated into law. The Government has announced we shall increase the speed of progress towards that target (by achieving 68% of the reductions in emissions by 2030). Moreover, the Climate Change Committee (the UK Government’s statutory adviser on the implementation of carbon commitments) has stated there is no room in the next “carbon budget” for any expansion in the UK’s net aviation capacity.

What can you do?

  1. Respond to the public consultation – use the postcode checker tool to see how you will be affected.
  2. Explain your concerns to your Local Borough Councillor and MP and ask them what they are doing about this.

We will keep you posted on developments.

You can read our full response here.

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