Plans to build a second terminal at Luton Airport have been delayed again, being pushed back to 2023.

Earlier this year, Luton Rising – a Luton Council subsidiary that owns the airport – held a consultation on proposals that would nearly double the airport’s annual passenger capacity from 18 million to 32 million.

The consultation ended in April, with an application to the Government for a development consent order (DCO) was due to follow this year, but this has now been pushed back to 2023.

The new plans consist of two phases, with the first expanding the existing terminal to 21.5 million passengers per year and the second building a new terminal.

This second phase is itself split into two parts, with the new terminal boosting capacity to 27 million per year and further expansion later increasing it to 32 million.

Construction would not begin until at least 2025, with consultation documents saying delivering the project would take up to 20 years, with periods of no activity.

New consultation documents say that the airport reviewed its earlier plans “to take into account the impacts of covid and other factors such as Brexit and the ongoing effects of climate change”, as well as responses to the previous consultation. The pandemic has caused the firm to borrow more than £100m from the council.

Last year Luton Council approved plans to increase the airport’s capacity from 18 million to 19 million per year, submitted London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL). These plans are currently subject to a public inquiry after being called in by the communities secretary. These plans are separate from Luton Rising’s proposals

Luton Rising CEO Graham Olver said: “We are continuing to evolve our scheme in response to feedback received during statutory consultation earlier this year, in particular our groundbreaking proposals to ensure the green controlled growth of our airport, which will support the unique social impact benefits and economic growth that will be delivered.

“We are also ensuring that our application responds appropriately to updated government guidance and better reflects the current economic situation.

“The project continues to demonstrate long-term projected construction-cost savings approaching £1bn against earlier estimates, and we will be submitting our application for development consent during 2023.”

The company has put an increased emphasis on sustainability in its latest plans. This includes the aforementioned approach called “green controlled growth” that will introduce legally binding limits for the airport’s impacts in terms of noise, carbon, air quality and surface access.

A DCO from the Planning Inspectorate is required for nationally significant infrastructure projects. The six-stage application process is officially allocated just over a year in duration.

This includes three months for the transport secretary to make a decision, although some recent ministerial decisions have been delayed.

Image source: London Luton Airport

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