Hertfordshire councils have come together to oppose the planned expansion of London Luton Airport, with concerns including "extensive negative impacts on Hertfordshire communities, landscapes, cultural heritage and transport infrastructure".

In February 2023, Luton Rising, the owner of London Luton Airport, submitted an application to central government for permission to grow the airport from a currently consented 19 million passengers per annum to 32 million passengers per annum.

Scrutiny of the application by an examining authority made up of five members appointed by Government concluded last month.

Hertfordshire, North Hertfordshire and Dacorum councils say they have committed substantial resources to engage with the process to oppose the expansion, and explain to the examining authority the reasons why it is unacceptable, as well as to ensure, should the expansion be permitted, that funding is secured to improve Hertfordshire's infrastructure and bus services.

Councillor Ruth Brown, executive member for planning at North Hertfordshire Council, said: "This proposal is simply unacceptable.

"The extensive negative impacts on communities, landscapes, cultural heritage and our transport infrastructure cannot be ignored.

"Rejecting this application is imperative, particularly in the current climate emergency.

"Expanding a short-haul airport is simply inappropriate."

Councillor Sheron Wilkie, portfolio holder for place at Dacorum Borough Council, said: "With extensive technical and legal support, Dacorum, Hertfordshire and North Hertfordshire councils have been working incredibly hard over the last six months to explain to the examining authority the unacceptable impacts this proposal would have on Hertfordshire communities, on its environment and on its roads.

"We entered the process in total opposition and, as the examination closes, that opposition remains un-tempered."

Councillor Stephen Boulton, executive member for sustainable economic growth at Hertfordshire County Council, has thanked representatives from Hertfordshire action and community groups "who have so resolutely stood up to this application".

"The examining authority can be in no doubt as to how Hertfordshire residents feel about this application," he said. "That view is shared by Dacorum, Hertfordshire and North Hertfordshire councils."

By May 10, the examining authority must present its findings, conclusions and recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, following which the Secretary of State is expected to make a decision within three months.

A spokesperson for Luton Rising said: "The benefits to Hertfordshire and the region from the proposed sustainable growth of our airport are significant, and we believe far outweigh negative impacts.
"Across the three counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, London Luton Airport supported a £1.1 billion contribution to GDP and sustained 16,500 jobs in 2019. By 2043, our application forecasts an 81 per cent increase in annual GDP, reaching £2.0bn, plus 6,100 new jobs.
"In Hertfordshire alone, there will be a predicted 1,400 new jobs supported by the airport, and a 75 per cent growth in GDP from £96m to £168m in 2043.
"Hertfordshire districts just to the south of Luton are home to a relatively high concentration of people working in businesses at London Luton Airport - 1,200 direct employees live in Dacorum, St Albans or North Hertfordshire, with total employment supported by the airport in those districts contributing combined wages of more than £69m in 2019.
"Use of our airport by Hertfordshire residents is also strong. Each resident of St Albans took an average of 1.9 return flights from our airport in 2019, with residents of Dacorum and North Hertfordshire also averaging more than one return flight each.
"We believe the commitments we are making to managing environmental impacts through our unique Green Controlled Growth framework are the most far-reaching yet put forward by any UK airport, and for the first time offer real surety to residents about the effects of expansion.
"We welcome the challenges that were raised during the recent examination, and are confident that our proposals can be consented in due course."