Business, community and charity leaders came together yesterday (Monday 24 July) to support proposals for the long-term sustainable growth of London Luton Airport and launch a new Grow Our Airport campaign.
A community-led petition has been set up and already attracted hundreds of signatures backing Luton Rising’s proposals to grow the airport up to a new capacity of 32 million passengers a year.
The plans are shortly to be examined by the Planning Inspectorate, along with proposals for Green Controlled Growth, a unique framework aimed at writing into law the most stringent environmental constraints on aviation growth ever proposed by a UK airport.
Growing London Luton Airport would bring around 11,000 new jobs by the mid-2040s. It would also produce millions of pounds of additional funding for local charities, helping to transform thousands of lives in the local community.
In addition, a successful application would bring more investment and business activity to Luton, growing the local economy by more than £1 billion a year and increasing choice of flight destinations.
The petition was set up by Mohammed Tariq, well-known in the town as Station Operations Manager at community radio station Inspire FM, and has been signed by residents at various community events.
He said: “Luton’s communities are resilient, caring and have supported each other through a number of difficult years. Vital funds generated from our airport have helped keep the town afloat. And the importance of the airport to the town has never been as clear following the impact of Covid and the current cost of living crisis. But poverty remains too high in Luton which is why we support the plans to grow London Luton Airport.”
Luton Rising is the trading name of London Luton Airport Ltd, the Luton Council company which owns the airport for community benefit.
Nick Platts, Managing Director of Luton Rising, said: “We are proud to be the UK’s leading community airport. This means that over the last 20 years we have invested nearly £500m in the town and its community – whether through supporting our voluntary sector directly or through dividends and other financial payments made to the Council.
“It means that we are able to sponsor major community events in Luton throughout the year that bring joy and delight into the lives of Luton’s people, and it means that London Luton Airport is the only major UK airport solely in public ownership through our shareholder Luton Council.
“We are a company governed by public sector principles and values, the profit of which goes into the public purse and not the pockets of private shareholders. Without our airport, none of this would be possible, and our ambition as a company is to do far more.”
Cllr Javeria Hussain, Chair of Luton Rising, said: “There are many people who would prefer our airport not to grow. There are many who would prefer it to shrink and disappear altogether.
“Their voices are loud and insistent. They do not speak for our future. If people who support our airport are silent, theirs are the only voices that will be heard when those in power decide the future of our town.
“The time has come for everyone to speak for Luton. Make your voice heard. Let your support for your airport be known.”
Dozens of organisations have expressed their support for the expansion.
Justin Richardson, Chief Executive of the Bedfordshire and Luton Chamber, said: “We believe it is vitally important that London Luton Airport continues with its long-term sustainable growth plans to provide certainty for the businesses and communities it serves for the foreseeable future. The airport is a linchpin of the regional economy, contributing over £1.1 billion a year to Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire economies and supporting 27,000 jobs nationally.
“As the UK heads into a new chapter, London Luton Airport will have a vital role in driving trade by providing direct and frequent access to markets and global opportunities. When London Luton Airport thrives and grows, so too does the regional economy, so the airport’s growth ambitions deserve our firm support.”
Stephanie Simeon, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Luton, explained that Luton Rising last year helped its clients increase their combined income by more than £2m, with its debt team helping over 900 families with more than £6m of arrears, and also issued hundreds of families in desperate need with food and fuel vouchers.
She said: “With recent cuts in funding, we have less resource to deliver our service. But we remain extremely grateful to Luton Rising. Without this funding, we would not have been able deliver our much-needed service.”
Mostaque Koyes, Director of Community interest Luton, said: “When the airport succeeds, so do the people of Luton, as the money the airport generates is invested straight back into the community to charities such as ours to deliver vital work to tackle the many socio-economic challenges our town faces.
“An airport with more passengers will ensure more money is invested back into the Luton community and to charities such as ours to fund and deliver even more grassroots projects to support those in need.”
While the petition is mainly collecting hard copy signatures, Mr Mohammed has now set up an online version for people who would prefer to sign it that way: https://www.petitiononline.uk/expansion_of_london_luton_airport#form
You can also express your support on social media or by writing to your MP. For more information about the campaign visit www.growourairport.org
Contact InformationChristopher Hall
Notes to editorsPhoto shows Luton Rising Chair Cllr Javeria Hussain, Managing Director Nick Platts and Service Director Mark Turner with guests including Richard Cooper, Chair of the Bedfordshire and Luton Chamber