Passenger numbers are set to triple over the next 25 years as plans for a new full-length runway and a new south terminal at Luton Airport have been unveiled.
Existing facilities will also be expanded, with most of the work being completed by the end of 2007, but planning permission still needs to be granted for the proposals which are as follows:
- Existing facilities will have extra aircraft stands, a terminal extension, more parking and a parallel taxiway.
- The new full-length runway will replace the existing one which will be kept as a backup and for emergencies.
- The new south terminal will be accessed by a new reception centre and there'll be even more aircraft stands, a new fire station and control tower.
The expansion is expected to give a boost to other parts of the economy in Luton, with more demand for things like engineering, hotels and catering.
|The proposed new runway|
Airport bosses aim to have the new runway and terminal completed in time for the 2012 Olympics.
David Franks the leader of Luton Borough Council, believes the Council is aware the airport needs expanding.
"All three parties on Luton Borough Council are committed to some expansion of the airport because the airport is absolutely critical to the local economy, it employs about 9,500 people."
"They are local jobs, 55% of the people who work at the airport actually live in Luton and another 25% of them live elsewhere in Bedfordshire and that means 1,500 jobs in Hertfordshire." Cllr Franks explained.
Cllr Franks was also aware that people may believe the Council are just interested in the financial implication that expansion may bring with it.
"It is not only about money, one of the things we are going to have to be looking very carefully about is the environmental impact, without any doubt that is an important issue and it is not one we intend to ignore."
However, he firmly believes there is significant local support for the airport expansion.
"My experience of talking to people in Luton is that they are well aware of how important the airport is for the economy of the town and would support expansion but there is an environmental question and we need to look at that." he said.
|Busy skies above Luton?|
Mark Sheiman from the local Luton and Beds Green Party spokesman, disputed the claims that the expansion will be good for the local area.
"This is a very sad day for the people of Luton and for Hertfordshire, the people who are going to suffer."
"30,000 people will suffer more aircraft noise and more pollution and the whole world suffers because climate change is made far worse by all the aircraft flying out of this airport." said Mr Sheiman.
The Green Party are also concerned with the long term problems that increased air travel may bring with it and how everyone should hold themselves responsible.
"Well they have to look at what is happening in the world, floods in Boscastle the tornado in America, it is happening everywhere, it is their children who will suffer."
"If they really want them to have a future they've got to care and they have got to cut back on the amount of airport use we have." Mr Sheiman explained.
When questioned on whether a public consultation will actually allow the voice of the people to be heard Mr Sheiman was adamant they could.
"Poll tax was going to happen but we stopped that, if enough people care about this and it takes the good people of Harpenden and St Albans and the people from Bedfordshire to actually say NO and put a firm no so they can't ignore it." he explained.