Zero Carbon Luton
There’s a lot going on in the world right now, so thank you for finding time for what’s happening in Luton as we work together towards a zero carbon future.
In this second issue of our newsletter, the following:
Consultations open on Luton Airport expansion
Protests launched against Luton Airport growth plans
Re-generating Griffin House
Councils awarded scorecards for their climate action plans
Consultations on airport expansion
Luton Rising, the owner of Luton Airport, has begun a new round of statutory consultation on airport expansion plans. The latest round incorporates changes and suggestions drawn from the last set of consultation events held in 2019.
As before, they will be seeking the views of local people around the area as the airport hopes to expand from 18 to 32 million passengers per year. This will not require a second runway, but it will include a new terminal, and building across much of Wigmore Park.
Previous consultations raised objections around the environment, and Luton Rising insist their plans have taken this into consideration. “We firmly believe there is a way to grow an airport in a sustainably responsible way” says Councillor Javeria Hussein, chair of Luton Rising.
Chief Executive Graham Olver highlights a new “Green Controlled Growth framework” for the airport expansion, described as “at the heart of our sustainability measures, which we believe are some of the most far-reaching ever put forward by a UK airport.” The plan is to put robust limits on key environmental impacts, and make them legally binding.
Critics remain sceptical, pointing out that previous limits such as noise restrictions have been repeatedly breached. Anti-expansion group LADACAN say the plans will lead to 40,000 extra passenger journeys on the roads every day, and impose day and night-time noise increases across the region.
Most importantly, the expansion of Luton Airport would lead to a 60% rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the flights. Even if the airport itself were to operate entirely on renewable energy, Luton Airport would be directly responsible for over two million tonnes of CO2 a year from the planes – a vast contribution to global climate change.
Your turn: drop in on one of the public consultation exhibitions, or visit the online exhibition space on Luton Rising’s website to view the plans and have your say. If you wish to object, see LADACAN’s guide here.
Opposition to airport growth plans
While the consultation on the airport expansion is ongoing, a number of groups have made their opposition clear. High profile opponents include Bim Afolami, Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, who has launched a petition against the expansion plans. There is no mention of climate change in Afolami’s petition, which objects to the “detrimental impact on local transport networks and increase in air and noise pollution in Hitchin & Harpenden.”
Climate campaigners Greenwash.earth picked up on sustainability claims and named Luton Rising the ‘Greenwasher of the Month’ for February, saying that “flying can never be sustainable.”
More locally, the Luton branch of Extinction Rebellion has branded the plans “ludicrous” and is protesting against the expansion. “This goes against the council declaring a climate emergency and puts the people of Luton and the planet at risk from climate change.”
We will be covering Luton Airport and its plans in more detail in future articles.
Green re-generation of Griffin House?
Vauxhall built a new corporate headquarters in Luton in the 1960s, and the Windmill Road site served as the office and heritage centre of the company until it was sold in 2019. The plans for re-generating the site have now been revealed as… a logistics centre called Prologis Park.
If your first question is ‘does Luton really need more logistics centres?’ then you are not alone. It’s the first entry on the Frequently Asked Questions page and their answer is yes, apparently.
For the purposes of Zero Carbon Luton however, a couple of things jumped out. One is the plan to re-open the river Lea, which passes through the site. The river has been closed to the public at this point, and the current plan would see it restored and landscaped, with a walking and cycling path connecting through to Manor Park. This is a positive development in itself, but also potentially supports active transport routes for employees at the logistics park, as well as the nearby retail park and Chiltern Academy.
Speaking of ‘potentially’, Prologis intend a net zero construction project and energy efficient buildings, including “potentially solar panels”. If you respond to the consultation, please press them to remove the word ‘potentially’ and invest in energy generation on site. Logistics buildings have big roofs and it’s a shame to see them go to waste.
Secondly, we can ask Prologis to up their ambitions for the build. They are aiming for a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating for sustainable buildings. Prologis Park Dunstable acheived an ‘outstanding’ for one of their buildings - the first industrial building in the country to get such a high mark. If they can do that in Dunstable, they can do it in Luton.
Finally, an increasing percentage of logistics transport will be electric. When the opportunity presents itself, it makes sense to factor in the infrastructure for that now. Let’s ask Prologis to make that a priority, as we look to reduce emissions and air pollution in the town from trucks and vans.
In other news…
Meanwhile, Easyjet continue with incremental progress towards lower emissions. Their latest step is to signed up for a new fuel management software platform called SkyBreathe. It will help to reduce their emissions by “up to 5%”.
Are Luton’s residents among the worst recyclers in the country? This article reckons so, and that’s something we’ll look into.
Luton climate activist jailed for role in Insulate Britain protests.
Please forward this email
We want to support the community of people working on climate change in Luton. If you know such a person, forward them this email and encourage them to sign up.
Send in your stories
This edition of the newsletter is slightly dominated by large scale development plans, but we will be covering community projects, education, conservation, waste, and lots more in the months to come. We want to tell your stories, so please send them to Jeremy Williams: email@example.com
The next newsletter will be out at the end of March. Stories will be published on the website in the meantime, at zerocarbonluton.org
The most important thing you can do about climate change is talk about it, says the scientist Katherine Hayhoe. That’s something we’ll be doing with our climate conversations, the first of which takes place with young people tomorrow. Look out for more in future, with different audiences and locations to come.