News Updates

GALBA tells council: LBA plans to break night flight rules again in 2024

April 10 2024 • 2 minute read

At the Airport Consultative Committee meeting on 27 March, LBA’s Chief Exec announced that LBA has already planned to break the night flight rules again this summer. This will be the third year running.

Dear Councillor Lewis

On 21 March, the Planning department upheld GALBA’s complaint that Leeds Bradford Airport exceeded the permitted number of night flights during the 2023 summer season. This decision is not available on the Planning Portal but you can read it on GALBA’s website.

However, Planning chose to take no enforcement action, despite having issued a ‘breach of condition’ (BCN) notice against LBA for breaking the same rules in 2022. The BCN required LBA to comply with the night flight conditions and warned that if LBA breached the BCN, Planning could prosecute LBA in the Magistrates Court because breaching a BCN is a criminal offence.

The reason given by Planning for not taking action is that it was not in the public interest. This appears to be because the maximum fine for breaching a BCN is £2,500 which, in Planning’s view, meant prosecution was not cost effective. For the reasons outlined below, we believe that is a mistake.

At the Airport Consultative Committee meeting on 27 March, LBA’s Chief Exec stated that he has already planned to break the night flight rules again this summer. This will be the third year running.

The Planning department’s decision to do nothing raises concerns and questions, not just about LBA’s criminal behaviour.

Would the Planning dept adopt the same lenient approach to an individual resident or small business who repeatedly broke planning conditions? Did Planning consult with the Public Health department when carrying out its cost/benefit assessment? Does Planning have any strategy to deal with LBA’s future breaches of conditions? 
  1. Slippery slope: Planning has publicly announced that enforcing a BCN is not cost effective. This appears to set a precedent or at least send a message to all wealthy developers: they can ignore planning conditions because there will be no consequences. ​​Is this not a risky position for LCC to adopt? We have all seen the consequences of regulators failing to stand up to large businesses, for example the water companies. We also question whether Planning would take the same lenient approach to an individual resident or small business who repeatedly broke planning conditions.

  2. Cost/benefit calculation: we question what factors were taken into account when deciding that prosecution was not cost effective. It appears that the monetised impact on the health of local people, caused by LBA’s excess night flights, was not considered. Did Planning consult with the Public Health department when carrying out its cost/benefit assessment? The Civil Aviation Authority provides information about the impact of noise on health and our website explains the health damage caused by ultrafine particles from jet engines.

  3. Continuing breaches: we understand from people who attended the last Airport Consultative Committee meeting that LBA’s Chief Exec, Vincent Hodder, stated he has no intention of complying with the night flight rules in future. On the contrary, he openly stated that LBA will exceed the permitted number of night flights again this summer. The mere threat of criminal action has had no effect on Mr Hodder, who appears unconcerned about defying the BCN. If Planning continues to rely on what we believe is an inadequate cost/benefit assessment, the question arises: does Planning have any strategy to deal with LBA’s repeated breaches of planning conditions?

As leader of the Council, we ask you to urge the Planning department to review its decision as soon as possible and pursue a criminal prosecution against LBA. This is important to deter further breaches of planning conditions, not only by LBA. Most developers do not want a criminal record because of the damage it would do to their reputation.

Thank you and if you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to reply to this email.

Nick Hodgkinson

Chair of GALBA

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