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GALBA responds to Leeds City Council decisions on night flights

March 21 2024

Three big decisions by Leeds City Council on night flights at Leeds Bradford Airport leave campaigners with mixed emotions - angry and pleased

Today, Leeds City Council announced three long awaited decisions about Leeds Bradford Airport’s attempts to fly more planes at night. First, the Council has upheld a complaint by the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) that the airport broke the night flight rules in summer 2023 by making 577 flights, 16% more than allowed.

However, the Council is not taking any action against LBA for its rule breaking. This is despite the Council saying in 2023 that if the airport broke the rules again, after it broke them in 2022, it could face criminal prosecution.

In a separate announcement, the Council has rejected two of LBA’s four controversial proposals, known as CLEUDs, to allow an increase in night time flying. The Council has said it will need more time to assess LBA’s other two applications.

“This is ridiculous. The Council has agreed with us that LBA broke the rules 577 times last summer but they're not going to do anything about it!"

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has welcomed the decisions to uphold its complaint that LBA broke the rules last summer and to reject two of LBA’s CLEUDs. But the campaigners are angry that the Council is taking no enforcement action against the airport for breaking the night flight rules in 2023.

Nick Hodgkinson, chair of GALBA, said: “This is ridiculous. The Council has agreed with us that LBA broke the rules 577 times last summer but they’re not going to do anything about it! Imagine a burglar being found guilty of 577 crimes but being let off. We’ll take legal advice about our options to challenge this abdication of responsibility by the Council.”

“When LBA were caught ignoring the night flight rules in 2022, the airport’s boss, Vincent Hodder claimed that it was a mistake. He said: ‘On behalf of LBA, I sincerely apologise for the airport exceeding the permitted number of night flights in Summer 2022. I want to reassure our local communities that actions have been taken quickly to address the problems that led to this error.’

“But LBA has done it again and the Council is doing absolutely nothing to stop it happening again this summer.”

"There’s no such thing as a ‘quiet’ passenger jet and there’s no such thing as ‘clean’ jet fuel. Every extra night flight means more harm to people’s health and more pollution, damaging our climate and the air we breathe"

The two CLEUD decisions concerned the definition of planes that are exempt from the limit on night flights and late arriving flights up to 1am. The two other applications are about whether LBA has broken the night time flying rules for a 10 year period. No decision has been made on these applications but the Council says it will decide before the end of October.

Ian Coatman from GALBA said: “The CLEUD decisions are good news for local people and for the climate. The first decision means that private jets are not exempt from the limit on the number of night flights – they have to be counted. Of course, private jets make noise too and they cause a huge amount of damage to the climate.”

“LBA’s second CLEUD application wanted to allow all types of planes that arrive late, between 11pm and 1am, to be exempt from the night flight limit. The Council’s decision applies to planes which are allowed to fly at night and it means all late arrivals of those planes must be counted towards the night flight limit. It doesn’t prevent emergencies from landing which we agree is the right thing to do.”

Nick Hodgkinson, added: “We now ask the Council to reject the airport’s other two applications. We have provided plenty of evidence to show LBA hasn’t proved what it needs to prove. So we’re pleased but there’s more to be done.”

“We’ve always said that there’s no such thing as a ‘quiet’ passenger jet and there’s no such thing as ‘clean’ jet fuel. Every extra night flight means more harm to people’s health and more pollution, damaging our climate and the air we breathe.”

“GALBA will keep on fighting LBA’s irresponsible and selfish attempts to expand. We hope the Council will eventually take responsibility and take enforcement action against LBA’s repeated rule breaking.”

Notes

CLEUD applications: in December 2023, LBA resubmitted four applications for Certificates of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) to Leeds City Council. They asked the Council to reinterpret the meaning of the rules that limit night time flying so as to allow a major rise in the number of night flights.

Night flight rules: planning conditions impose a cap on the number of night time flights allowed at LBA. Leeds City Council has responsibility for monitoring and enforcing those conditions. They define the Summer Season as British Summer Time, which was 26 March to 29 October in 2023. The night time period is defined as 23:00 to 07:00 and an aircraft movement is defined as a landing or a departure.

Night flight breaches: LBA broke those rules in the 2022 summer season and the Council issued a breach of condition notice against LBA in June 2023. GALBA monitored night flights from LBA in the 2023 summer season and found that LBA had already broken the rules again by 18 September 2023.

GALBA: is a group of concerned citizens from across West Yorkshire who successfully campaigned against a planning application by Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to expand by three million passengers a year. More information about GALBA is available on our website: www.galba.uk

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