The Environment Group continues to maintain its wide remit.  It represents the Society, and indeed the interests of local residents on the committee of LADACAN, with its ongoing concerns about the impact of aircraft movements into and out of Luton Airport on ‘Harpenden’s doorstep’, from an air pollution as well as the more obvious noise aspect.

In contrast, but of no less concern to many people in the town, the group seeks to ensure that our local authorities carry out their civic responsibilities properly in upholding Harpenden’s essentially pleasant surroundings.  That translates into many mundane - yet vital - matters such as: routinely emptying litter bins before they’re full to overflowing; promptly collecting bags of refuse too often left outside retail premises; clearing gutter drains blocked often with a consolidated mixture of leaves and road surface grit.

Though it shouldn’t be necessary in a well-ordered community, the Society encourages its members - and others who care about such matters - to report instances of environmental concern to the relevant authority.  Though in the case of neglected and therefore unsightly, unoccupied offices or retail premises, responsibility can lie with commercial property companies.    

For the record, overflowing litter bins in the town centre (High Street/Leyton Road/Station Road) shopping area, should be brought to the attention of the Town Council, on 01582 768278.  Meanwhile those in residential streets are the responsibility of SADC’s waste collection/disposal contractor Veolia, reached on 01727 809019 - the same number to which weed-filled or silted up gutters should be reported.

Confusingly, blocked drains, in common with other highway matters, such as potholes and defective street lights, are Herts County Council concerns and are most readily reportable via the HCC website, though they can also be reported by telephone, on 0300 123 4047, where a reference number is assigned and should be noted for use in any follow-up calls/complaints.

John Davis

Environmental Issues

Luton Airport Expansion - Society’s Response to Luton Airport Planning Application (2013/4)
The Chairman of The Harpenden Society, Chris Marsden, has written letters on behalf of the Society to key officials objecting to the planned expansion of Luton Airport to handle 18 million passengers per year and protesting at the lack of an impartial assessment process to determine whether the expansion can proceed.

A letter has been sent jointly to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Patrick McLoughlin Secretary of State for Transport. It points out that Luton Borough Council cannot apply proper objectivity to the application because it stands to gain financially from the expansion and therefore must not be allowed to decide upon granting the go ahead for the development.

Chris Marsden said “we have quite reasonably urged the two ministers to remove the decision making process from Luton Council and to judge it nationally in an impartial and fair manner.”

Chris outlined the key reasons for objecting to the planned airport expansion, “local road traffic will rise to unacceptable levels, the local rail connections will be overcrowded and noise pollution from overflying aircraft will become intolerable.”

The letters amplified the Society’s concerns. Road traffic to and from the expanded airport would generate an estimated extra 7,500 cars per day on the roads through and near Harpenden. Rail services will become unacceptably overcrowded. Thameslink’s current rail capacity, which Luton airport currently admits is inadequate, will be diminished if the rail freight depot at Radlett goes ahead as planned. Noise from aircraft overflying Harpenden is forecast to rise dramatically especially in the unsocial hours in the night and early morning.

A letter has also been sent to the Development Control Manager of Luton Borough Council pointing out that since the Council received £25 million from passenger revenues in 2011 then it cannot decide on the merits of the expansion because of the conflict of substantial income versus planning considerations. A similar letter has been sent to the Managing Director of London Luton Airport Operations Ltd.

Chris Marsden concluded, “not only do we object to the proposed expansion due to road, rail and noise considerations we fundamentally object to Luton Council adopting the role of poacher and gamekeeper. An independent third party must assess the project so that Luton’s impartiality is not compromised. We are simply requesting a fair assessment process.