Plans to allow one million more passengers through the UK’s fifth busiest airport have been approved by councillors.
London Luton Airport would be able to handle 19 million people a year, up from 18 million, the local council, which owns the airport, said.
Amendments to the current noise contours were also approved.
Opponents said the airport was already failing to meet conditions and this would mean even more flights and noise.
Earlier this year, the council’s company London Luton Airport Ltd, which owns the airport, became Luton Rising to avoid confusion with London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, a separate private consortium which runs the airport day to day.
Luton Borough Council said the planning application had come from the airport operator following a consultation and not Luton Rising, and the council’s development management committee had granted planning permission “subject to conditions and a legal agreement”.
The decision had taken into account the authority’s “local plan and national planning policy and guidance, and other material considerations”, it added.
The authority also said the application did not affect [Luton Rising’s] long term proposals to increase capacity of the airport to 32 million per year, which would be determined by government, not the council.
The council also approved amendments to the current noise contours, which measure how many people are affected by noise from the airport.
Bill Sellicks, from Hitchin Forum, told the meeting the group’s members often walked or cycled in the area to the east of the airport’s runway and were concerned about the noise impact.
He had urged the committee to reject the plans, saying it would “expose more people to dangerous levels of noise and would result in increased carbon emissions”.
Groups including Harpenden Sky, St Albans Aircraft Noise Defence (Stand), Harpenden Society and St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS) also opposed the plans.
Stop Low Flights from Luton said: “People living in this area accept there is an airport nearby but we don’t accept that the airport has carte blanche to disregard its planning conditions and impose an increase in noise burden on our communities.”
Jane Timmis, Conservative Dacorum Borough councillor for Watling ward, said there was no need for the airport to expand further “especially in light of recent pandemic and catastrophic climate change effects”.
She said there should not be an expansion to the “detriment of not only Luton residents but also to a large number of Hertfordshire residents”.