Frequently Asked Questions
Q) What is GALBA?
A) GALBA (Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport) was formed in October 2019. We are simply a group of residents from Leeds, Bradford and the surrounding areas, who are very concerned about the plan to massively increase passenger numbers at Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA). We believe that the expansion is wrong and must be stopped, for the sake of the current generation and the generations to come.
Q) What’s being proposed?
A) AMP (the Australian Investment Company that owns LBA) have submitted a planning application to build a new passenger terminal and extend flying hours. This will enable them to almost double the number of passengers from the current 4 million a year to 7.1 million by 2030. Key to this expansion is cutting into the current "quiet times", allowing noisy take-offs & landings an hour earlier (6am) in the morning & half later in the evening (11:30pm).
Q) Why do we oppose the expansion of LBA and the increase in night time flying?
A) Expansion would bring more noise for local communities, increased air pollution, more traffic congestion and pump much more CO2 into the atmosphere - making the climate emergency worse. We need to rebuild a healthy economy in Leeds. We don’t need an unsustainable development like this.
Q) What can I do to help?
A) Join GALBA, contribute to our crowdfunding campaign to pay for the legal expertise needed as part of our campaign, write you own objection to the Leeds City Council, speak to your local councillors (we've provided some handy guides here) and your MP, write to your local newspapers, spread the work on social media, tell your friends and family.
Q) How can I object?
A) A letter or comment stating your personal reasons is more effective in the planning process than a pre-printed form or a petition. The planning application has reference 20/02559/FU. It can seen & commented on the Council's planning portal.
You can also comment by post (though this is discouraged right now with COVID-19). You will need to include your full name and the reference number of the application. The postal address is:
Leeds City Council
110 Merrion Centre
Q) Why is the expansion bad for the environment?
A) The climate crisis is one of the largest ever threats to humanity. Global temperatures are rising due to the burning of fossil fuels. This will have a severe effect on the climate, our food supplies and the economy.
David Attenborough, among others, has warned that the UK must take radical action to meet its climate change targets. What we do in the next 10 years will determine the future of humanity over the next 10 thousand. We need to move from fossil-fuel energy and fossil-fuel transport to green alternatives. Aviation is one of the most carbon-intensive form of transport. It is expected to be the largest carbon emitter by 2050 and there is no prospect of carbon free aircraft for decades. Quite simply, flying is incompatible with a combatting the climate emergency. To expand it, is wrong – it puts profits before our futures.
Q) What impact will the expansion have on noise?
A) Noise seriously harms human health and interferes with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour.
Aircraft noise is a serious problem and the World Health Organisation is recommending far lower thresholds for the avoidance of adverse health impacts from aircraft noise. Safeguarding the health of the community must be a paramount consideration.
LBA can fly 24/7 but there are restrictions between the hours of 2300 – 0700. An important part of the application is a shrinking of this restricted time to 2330 – 0600. This means that peak activity at the airport will start at 6am (that is ‘officially’ - in reality flights are likely to ramp earlier, as happens now).
At night, the area surrounding the airport where people will experience LOAEL (the lowest noise dose at which there is an observed adverse effect) will increase after development by 8.6km2, to 56.2km2. This means that 123,000 people will fall into this category, and due to the increased incidence of noise the number of people being Highly Sleep Disturbed will be 42,000 and the number of people being Highly Annoyed will be 93,500 .
The airport’s own application Noise and Vibration section admits that “… This confirms that that whilst the changes are forecast to be ‘negligible’ or ‘low’, the Development will result in an adverse effect on health due to increased noise.”
Q) What is the impact of flying on air pollution?
A) Ultra-fine particles (known as PM2.5) comes from jet engines and is now one of the major health concerns relating to airport expansion. New research shows that it can have serious adverse health impacts even at levels, well below WHO guideline limits. They are produced not only at aircraft take-off and landing but have also been found up to 14 miles from an airport. The new research confirms previously known associations between PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
Q) Hasn’t the Council declared a climate emergency?
A) Public understanding and concern over the climate crisis have grown tremendously in the last 18 months, and in 2019 both Leeds and Bradford Councils declared climate emergencies. In Leeds, the council has committed to making the city carbon neutral by 2030. However, in Leeds, research published at the University has shown that carbon emissions. from flights at LBA would make it impossible to reach that target – even at the existing level of 4 million passengers per. year. If expansion goes ahead, the increased emissions would use up the entire carbon budget of the city by 2026. As the council have conceded, aviation expansion is incompatible with addressing the climate emergency.
Q) Wouldn’t an expanded airport stop people driving to Manchester airport and therefore be better for the environment?
A) No. This would only work if LBA put on the same schedules as Manchester, stopped the Manchester flights from happening and stopped people from outside of the region from using LBA! None of these will happen. The reality is that Manchester is trying to expand as well. In defiance of our obligations to reduce our emissions, all airports are trying to increase demand.
Q) If LBA doesn’t expand, won't Manchester will take all the business?
A) This is one of most prominent arguments, but it fails to grasp the gravity of the climate emergency and the response and priority it requires. The climate emergency requires everyone, everywhere, doing whatever they can. It can’t be met with a “them or us” logic: it requires a “them and us” logic. LBA needs to be stopped from expanding and Manchester needs to be stopped from expanding. We’re not up against each other, we’re in this together, and we all need to do whatever we can. There is also a strong campaign against expansion at Manchester and the Councils at Stansted and Bristol have shown what is possible by turning down similar expansions.
Q) Why do you want to stop people going on holiday?
A) We don’t. The main problem is the small number of frequent flyers. Just 10% of people in England were responsible for more than half of all international flights in 2018. And 48% of the population did not take a single flight abroad in that year.
Q) Hasn’t LBA said it will be carbon neutral?
A) Look at the small print. This relates to the new terminal building and not emissions from aircraft!
Q) I have heard the claim that carbon emissions are not the responsibility of the Council?
A) With planning applications, the main guidance to Councils is in a document called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This states that Councils must take climate change into consideration in line with the provisions of the Climate Change Act (2008). The NPPF states that ‘the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. At a very high level, the objective of sustainable development can be summarised as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Council’s at Stansted and Bristol have been guided by this and turned down. similar expansions.
Q) Isn’t there a demand for flights?
A) The dramatic increase in flying has been made possible by cheap flights. But flights are cheap only because we all subsidise them though our taxes. The government provides huge subsidies to support the aviation industry - no tax on fuel, no VAT on tickets. However, things are changing. As the public’s concerns about climate change increases, there is a growing demand for these subsidies to be stopped. That’s the moral answer. But with COVID-19, most aviation experts are predicting that demand for air travel will remain low for several years.
Naturally, people won’t want to risk being in an enclosed space - breathing other people’s air - until COVID-19 is long gone. There’s simply no need to expand the airport.
Q) Isn’t the airport good for the economy and doesn’t it bring jobs?
A) The proposed development will not make a sustainable contribution to the local economy. The airport is based on budget airlines, with the vast majority of passengers taking overseas holidays, and therefore taking money out of the region and the country. Airports are increasingly being automated, with the remaining employment tending to be low skilled, low pay, zero hour one in airport shops and cafes. Expansion is unlikely to deliver additional and sustainable jobs over the long term.
Q) Aren’t aircraft becoming more efficient?
A) The efficiency of new aircraft is slowly improving, but the airport has no control over the age, maintenance regime or replacement schedule of the aircraft that use its facilities, whether based there or not. The average age of Jet2 aircraft at LBA is 13.7 years and some aircraft are approaching 30 years. However, any benefits of more efficient new aircraft are being outstripped by ongoing growth in the sector and hence the emissions continue to rise both absolutely and relative to other sectors. Flying already constitutes about 7 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions and is predicted to be the largest emitter of CO2 by 2050 unless action is taken.
Q) What about electric aircraft and other technologies?
A) The government’s own Committee on Climate Change has stated that there are no prospects of commercially available zero-carbon planes for decades, and that airport expansion must be limited in order to meet our legally bound climate obligations. While there is some scope for technological change – for example through the advent of electric, hydrogen or next generation bio-fuel powered planes, the prospects for such innovations becoming widely adopted across the aviation sector in the short to medium term are non-existent. Even if planes with new technologies became viable in the next decade, it would take many years for existing fleets to transition towards the new technologies. Given the nature of the climate emergency and the need to deliver deep reductions in emissions in the next decade, the growth of emissions from aviation must be based on flight reduction.
Q) Can’t we offset to achieve carbon neutrality?
A: The idea of offsetting – such as planting trees to soak up the CO2 we produce – will not solve the climate emergency. The climate emergency means that we have to reduce our emissions as fast and as much as we possibly can. We need to plant trees, yes, but we should do that in addition to reductions in flying rather than enabling more flying. The picture that airlines would like to paint is a guilt-free flight from London to Tenerife because the 860kg of climate-changing carbon emitted would be drawn down by, for example, extra trees being planted in Malawi. It will take trees decades to absorb 860kg of carbon. Until they do, that extra carbon remains in the atmosphere and produces a warming effect. The carbon that is offset needs to be kept out of the climate for many decades. And of course, there is nothing to say that at some point in the future they won't be cut down and burnt. Currently, 85% of
carbon offset projects have failed in the objective of reducing emissions.
Q) Doesn’t the Council own LBA?
A) No, the airport was sold off years ago and was recently bought by AMP, a large Australian based global investment company.
Q) What do the people of Leeds think?
A) The Leeds Climate Change Citizens Jury was a group of 21 local residents - a representative sample of Leeds as a whole - who met in autumn 2019. Most of them knew little about the climate emergency or airport expansion at the start. After attending sessions with scientists and other experts, one of the Jury’s key recommendations was that airport expansion should be stopped. They called on Leeds to lead an ‘environmental revolution’.
Q) Can you succeed?
A) Yes. The people and the councils at Stansted and Bristol have shown that expansion can be stopped.