In late 2015, Luton Airport launched a revised flight path utilising RNAV technology. RNAV enables the departing aeroplanes to track a much narrower band, which is directly above parts of North St Albans, Jersey Farm and Sandridge. Previously, pilots had flown this route in the traditional way which introduced a degree of variability in the tracks flown, however RNAV lets a computer fly the plane, and so the track keeping is more precise – and as a result, causes a significant detriment to the quality of life of those communities that are directly overflown. The prevailing Westerly wind means that aircraft fly this revised route approximately 75-85% of the time.
Coupled with this change, Luton Airport has also achieved unprecedented growth. Luton Borough Council, which is the sole owner of the airport, relies on Luton Airport for income and has actively encouraged and rewarded expansion with no regard for local communities. They allowed Luton Airport to break planning conditions on noise for three years in a row and rather than using those planning conditions to protect communities as they should have done, they have recently voted to allow Luton Airport to waive those protective noise conditions and have also given consent for further expansion.
Plans originally approved in 2013 to grow the airport towards 18 million passengers per year in 2028 have already been realised, some six years earlier. Luton Borough Council have already given consent for interim expansion to 19 million passengers and Luton Airport has started consultation on a plan to obtain a development consent order for an increase to 32 million passengers by 2040.
STAQS campaigns against the detrimental impact that aviation noise and airport expansion has on local communities - and the work it undertakes is now required more than ever.