Plans in for £2.4bn Luton Airport expansion

Luton Airport has set out an expansion plan which could see its annual passenger numbers almost double.

The airport is seeking consent for new terminal capacity, earthworks to create an extension to the current airfield platform, new airside and landside facilities and improvements to the surface access network.

The plan also moots an extension of the Luton DART – the light rail-link connecting the airport with Luton Airport Parkway station – alongside landscaping, ecological work and further infrastructure initiatives to support the goal of zero-emission ground operations by 2040.

If the plan gets the go-ahead from the Secretary of State for Transport, the current cap of 18 million passengers per year will rise to 32 million. The plans are estimated to cost £2.4bn.

The application for a development consent order was originally scheduled for submission last year, but was pushed back in November, with construction not due to start until 2025 at the earliest.

Luton Rising, the council-owned company that owns the airport for community benefit, said the application would secure the “sustainable long-term growth” of the facility.

The plan, which follows four years of assessments, consultation and stakeholder engagement, includes community funding proposals that could provide an additional £14m every year for communities across Luton and neighbouring areas.

A green controlled-growth strategy included in the submission sets binding and independently monitored environmental limits in areas such as carbon, air quality, noise and surface access.

The inspectorate now has 28 days to determine whether the application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination or whether further documentation is needed.

Graham Olver, chief executive officer of Luton Rising, said the company had done everything it could to deliver an “achievable, detailed and evidence-based application” which would meet the inspectorate’s requirements.

“We aim to enhance economic activity in and around Luton, provide numerous community benefits and make the airport a leader in sustainable aviation,” he said.

“We hope that this will mark the start of the next phase of our commitment to grow London Luton Airport and help to deliver the employment, prosperity and positive social impact for Luton and neighbouring communities that they so richly deserve.”

The inspectorate will have six months to complete its examination and a further three months to make its recommendation to the Secretary of State, who can then grant or refuse development consent.

Elsewhere, Heathrow is expected to announce plans for a third runway later this year while Mace recently landed a key role in the £440m expansion of Manchester Airport.

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