North Herts News 2012-04
A recent government white paper suggested a need for a huge expansion in passenger movements across the south-east and implied Luton had capacity of 30 million with just one runway. So expansion to 18m is achievable and probably justified. But, what are the consequences? The most important concern is the adequacy of the ‘mitigation measures’; what the airport does to prevent additional noise disturbance and facilitate traffic movements. We were assured that there will be no increase in night flights (there are some existing night flights, mainly freight). We were assured that a modelling exercise will be carried out to calculate the increased traffic movements and proposals would be put forward to overcome the impact. But whether these measures are sufficient remains to be seen. The plans indicate 6000 jobs, which would be great, but others think 1000 is a more realistic number.
This consultation (which ran until 26th March) will lead on to a planning application. So if you didn’t get a chance to see or comment on the plans, there will be a separate opportunity. The planning application will go to Luton Borough Council and councillors on the airport board will not be allowed to sit on the planning committee. However, it is also possible that the Secretary of State will ‘call-in’ the decision and there may even be a public enquiry.
Newer aircraft are quieter and modern technology allows them to operate in a much narrower corridor (currently aircraft are allowed anywhere within a 3km wide band), but can we guarantee only modern aircraft will use the expanded airport?
For anyone who has flown from Luton, the ‘Passenger Experience’ is far from satisfactory and this is a key area for improvement with expanded terminals and a new multi-storey car park. The junction from the M1 is also to be improved as is the airport approach road. But routes from the south east (which include Codicote) and the north east (via Hitchin) are already above capacity.
The works, in Hill Road, to provide additional parking, are at last proceeding. Combined with the Farrier’s Close work we have managed to create a significant number of additional parking spaces, but I doubt it will ever be enough.
In another initiative, North Herts Homes is regulating its garage compounds, which should free up more spaces. When the bulk of council houses were built, most had an allocated parking space or a garage in an amenity block. But these are seldom used (especially for cars), and as houses have been sold off, the parking space has often become separated. Many of the garages are dilapidated, disused and dangerous. An exercise to identify which plots are used has been carried out and a small charge is now levied (rather more for a brick garage). We do need to make the most of this available land. I remain very much against parking on grass verges; Codicote’s estate roads were designed to give an open village feel and the grass is a significant contributor to this. Please don’t park on it.
North Hertfordshire (well the people of North Hertfordshire, like you) has an excellent record of recycling and we were the first authority to beat the 50% recycling target. But it’s still not enough.
The next target is 60%. To achieve this we MUST divert food waste into the brown bins. I know many residents have concerns over smell and vermin (which the evidence shows is a very rare occurrence). We know the use of compostable bags would help, but the risk of using a non-compostable bag remains high and just one plastic bag in a bin could mean the entire lorry load is sent to landfill instead of being composted. So we are considering (no decision yet) providing bags free to encourage waste recycling.
Ideally we would like to collect food waste weekly and plans for this are also being explored. The costs are high but are falling as the alternative – landfill charges – sway the balance.
Waste and Recycling is probably the single service where most tax payers come into contact with the council. As part of the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership (All ten districts plus the county) we are exploring all the options and I urge you to do your bit.