One million extra passengers can be accommodated at Luton Airport, after a decision taken by ministers in Westminster.

Two Hertfordshire MPs have shared their dismay that London Luton Airport is now allowed to raise its capacity from 18 to 19 million passengers per annum (mppa).

The easyJet and Wizz Air hub in Bedfordshire has a roughly east-west runway, which means planes taking off and landing fly over parts of Hertfordshire in either direction – including St Paul’s Walden, Stevenage and Markyate.

Along with lifting the passenger cap, the application is linked with the plan to dual Airport Way and expand the terminal and car parking.

Conservative MP Bim Afolami, who represents the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency immediately east of the airport, said: “I totally disagree with the decision to allow Luton Airport to expand to 19 million passengers per annum.

The Comet: Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami.Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami. (Image: Bim Afolami, MP)

“My position has not changed.”

This application was put forward by London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL), which is responsible for running the airport.

Luton Rising, which owns the airport, has major expansion plans – for a second terminal to accommodate up to 32mppa.

Inspectors are looking at this proposal as part of a separate process referred to as National Infrastructure Planning, with the examination stage due to end in February 2024.

Mr Afolami said: “This decision will not stop me fighting against the much bigger expansion that Luton Airport has planned in their attempt to try and create an airport the size of Gatwick – for which Luton will get the gain, and Hertfordshire will get the pain.”

Lee Rowley MP in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Richard Holden MP in the Department for Transport jointly granted Luton Airport’s operators permission to lift the cap, on behalf of their secretaries of state.

They made their ruling on the advice of three planning inspectors.

The Comet: St Albans MP Daisy Cooper.St Albans MP Daisy Cooper. (Image: Courtesy of Daisy Cooper)

Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans, described the decision as a “slap in the face for local communities across Hertfordshire who are concerned by the climate emergency”.

Ms Cooper said: “Luton Airport, supported by Luton Council, made this application retrospectively because they’d already breached the legal noise and passenger limits in 2019, and wanted approval to press on and keep doing so.

“The decision issued today by the Conservative secretaries of state acknowledges that there will be more emissions from aircraft and ground transport, and that air quality will be adversely impacted as a result of this expansion, but they’ve given Luton the green light to go ahead anyway.

“The government also continues to rely on hopes that airlines might one day use quieter aircraft, to minimise the disruption to those in the flight paths whose daily lives are blighted by the din – especially in north St Albans.”

Airport had 71 per cent growth in just six years

According to documents put forward by the airport’s operators, throughput at London Luton rose from 10.5mppa in 2014 to 18mppa – the cap – in 2019, which is a 71 per cent rise in just six years.