Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami and North Herts councillor Sam Collins have both launched petitions against plans to expand Luton Airport as the consultation period begins.

The proposals would see the airport's passengers numbers per year increase from 18 million to 32 million.

Airport owner, Luton Rising, has begun its statutory consultation in advance of a Development Consent Order request being put in later this year.

The Conservative MP said: “Luton Rising’s plans to expand would have a hugely detrimental impact on our communities.

"They would put increased strain on our transport networks and increase air and noise pollution in Hitchin & Harpenden.

"I am fighting against these expansion plans and I need local residents’ help to demonstrate the strength of local feeling on this issue.

"I would be grateful if residents who support this campaign could sign my petition against expansion, which will be presented by me to the Secretary of State to show how strongly people feel that the Development Consent Order to expand Luton Airport to 32 million passengers should not be granted.

"Residents should also fill in Luton Rising’s consultation, to make sure that they know the strength of feeling from local residents on this issue.”

In response to the petition, a Luton Rising spokesperson said: "We appreciate how important the issue of airport expansion is to many communities, which is why we are seeking further engagement with the public.

"We believe our proposals will create thousands of new jobs throughout the area and generate £1bn for the regional economy.

"Residents of Herts in particular, already benefit significantly from the airport both in terms of access to flights and employment.

"The proposed expansion will allow Luton Rising to build on the £155m it has already given to regional community projects since 2002 and the £257m given to support frontline services in Luton.

"The proposed airport expansion will have some of the following features: low-carbon energy sources and on-site renewable energy generation, energy efficient building designs, as well as providing fixed electric ground power at aircraft stands.

"We appreciate that aircraft noise and air pollutions are important issues for many. As part of our modelling when we have compared the impact of increased passengers, at all stages of the change to 32m passengers, the noise contour areas will be smaller at each phase than they were in 2019.

"Thus, we believe over time, there will be a reduction in the number of people who would experience significant noise effects due to aircraft noise. This is due to quieter and more efficient aircraft that will be phased into the fleet.

"Our assessments on air pollution show that there will be no significant effect on this and that we will always keep within the nationally set air quality standards.

"We believe our environmental sustainability proposals are some of the most far-reaching ever put forward by a UK airport.

"Our Green Controlled Growth framework is at the heart of these measures. They include a set of binding limits for surface access, air quality, noise and greenhouse gas emissions meaning growth at the airport will be allowed only where it can be shown to be delivered within those limits. These will be legally binding and independently monitored

"Having listened to comments members of the public made in our previous consultation, we have changed our initial proposals and are now keen to hear what people have to say about them."

The plans have also been criticised by Liberal Democrat Hitchin Highbury councillor Sam Collins - parliamentary candidate for Hitchin & Harpenden.

The Comet: Lib Dem Sam Collins has launched a petition against Luton airport expansion plansLib Dem Sam Collins has launched a petition against Luton airport expansion plans (Image: Sam Collins)

“This is a smoke screen, as introducing a more comprehensive green strategy and aspiring to carbon net zero targets does not make this development any more attractive," Sam said.

"Residents do not want more planes flying over their homes and more traffic on our roads. It’s incomprehensible that Luton Council want to press ahead with this development when we should be taking action to save our planet, not help destroy it.”

Residents can sign Bim’s petition at www.bimafolami.co.uk/stop-luton-expansion, and Sam's can be found at hitchinharpendenlibdems.org/stop_luton_airport_expansion

Luton Rising’s consultation can be found at www.lutonrising.org.uk.