Luton Airport 'wants 30 million passengers a year'
Passenger numbers at Luton Airport could nearly treble, to 30 million a year, under new proposals.
Owner London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) is in talks with planners about increasing passenger numbers from its current annual 11.5 million.
It already has plans, revealed in January, to increase footfall to 18 million passengers a year.
The new proposal has been criticised by Hertfordshire County Council. LLAL said the new proposals were just one option.
The proposals were revealed by the council after the figure was mentioned in discussions between the owner and the Planning Inspectorate.
'Stunned by news'
The new application is set to be submitted in 2013.
Robert Gordon, leader of the county council, said: "I am stunned by this news.
"Local authorities and communities alike are worried at the speed with which even the current proposals to expand capacity up to 18 million people per annum are being progressed, but have engaged in the consultations and await any planning application in good faith.
"Make no mistake, this is a huge expansion proposal and represents a throughput not significantly different from that currently experienced at London Gatwick and 10 million people per annum more than currently experienced at London Stansted."
A spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate told the BBC that the figure of 30 million had been put forward in discussion with the airport's owner
He said the application for 30 million passengers was not being put in until the third or fourth quarter of 2013.
A spokesman for London Luton Airport Limited said: "In considering future opportunities for London Luton Airport, LLAL has looked at a number of alternative development scenarios and has been completely open about this.
"These have included expanding the airport to make best use of the runway capacity that the Government identified in the Future of Aviation White Paper as being up to 30 million passengers per annum.
"At present, LLAL is concentrating upon the 18 million people per annum. This means that a 30 million project is not being pursued for the time being.
"If this were ever to be pursued the proposal would have to be subject to the rigorous environmental impact assessment processes and public consultation."