News Updates

LBA misinforms its night flights time slots coordinator

May 16 2024

LBA uses an external company to arrange the time slots for airlines that fly at night. That company is called Airport Coordination Limited (ACL). When we looked at their website, we noticed that their statement about night flights says something completely wrong. It says that planes with a noise rating of QC0.25 are allowed fly but do not count towards the limit on the number of permitted night flights. The thing is... they do count towards that limit! You can read our letter to ACL below.

I ask you to explain why you include this erroneous operating rule for Leeds Bradford Airport... You should be aware that this is very likely to result in the contravention of planning conditions

Dear Sir or Madam,

I represent the Group for Action for Leeds Bradford Airport (“GALBA”), a group of concerned citizens, formed with the aim of preventing any expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (“LBA”) or any increase in night flights, including through failure to comply with planning requirements.

GALBA notes that paragraph 7.7 of Local Rule 1 Leeds Bradford Night Movement and Quota Allocation Procedures (published on your website) states that “Aircraft with QC rating of 0.25 are exempt from counting towards Night Movement Quota”. We wish to inform you that this is incorrect.

You should be aware that this is very likely to result in the contravention of planning conditions, and, further, would be in contravention of a breach of condition notice (“BCN”) – a criminal offence.

I ask you to explain why you include this erroneous operating rule for Leeds Bradford Airport and invite you to amend para 7.7 of LBA Local Rule 1 accordingly.

Breach of Conditions

You should be aware that on 6 June 2023, following correspondence from GALBA indicating that planning conditions had been breached, Leeds City Council (“LCC”) served a BCN on LBA as a result of exceeding the maximum number of aircraft movements in the night-time period during the summer of 2022. The BCN required LBA to:

  • Ensure that the maximum number of aircraft movements in the night-time period by aircraft specified in Condition 6 (a) to (d) shall be limited to and not exceed 2800 for each summer season with effect from and including Summer season of 2023
  • Immediately cease all activities, aircraft scheduling and all other acts or permissions that will result in the number of aircraft movements in the night-time period by aircraft specified in Condition 6 (a) to (d) exceeding 2800 for each Summer season.[1]

On 20 March 2024, LCC concluded that LBA had contravened the requirements of the BCN over the summer 2023 season. LCC explained that LBA had submitted monthly monitoring data on the basis of which LCC had concluded: “…LBA has not complied with paragraph 5(1) of the BCN as night-time aircraft movements have exceeded the permitted total by 577 movements during the Summer period 2023 (BST). This means that night-time aircraft movements were 16% higher than permitted.”

Notwithstanding the contravention of the BCN, LCC has decided not to prosecute, without prejudice to any future action which it might take if LBA continues to contravene the BCN over the 2024 summer season.

While LCC has decided not to prosecute, GALBA remains extremely concerned that LBA continues to flagrantly breach planning requirements even in spite of enforcement action having been taken by LCC. Contravention of a BCN is a criminal offence and even though LCC has decided not to prosecute, there has clearly been a finding by the local planning authority of criminal conduct by LBA.

Status of QC0.25 Aircraft

The status of aircraft with a QC rating of 0.25 is significant to LBA’s breach of planning conditions and the contravention of the BCN. The definition of the relevant planning condition is disputed by LBA and is subject to a Certificate of Existing Lawful Use or Development (CLEUD) application made by LBA to LCC. This application was submitted on 14 December 2023 but it has not yet been determined by Leeds City Council.

There are only two possible interpretations of the relevant condition:

  1. That QC0.25 aircraft are allowed to operate at night and count towards the cap.[2] This is the interpretation held by GALBA and by LCC.
  2. That QC0.25 (and indeed QC0 and QC0.125) are not allowed to operate at night under any circumstances. This is the interpretation claimed by LBA in its CLEUD application.

LBA’s interpretation is necessary for the CLEUD application to have any basis. This is because an applicant must prove that a planning condition has been breached continually over a 10 year period. Consequently, in the CLEUD application[3] LBA argues the following interpretation of conditions 6(a) and (b) – the conditions which define the aircraft types allowed to depart and arrive during the night period:

“LBA considers that neither condition 6(a) or 6(b) covers aircraft with a quota count of less than 0.5 (ie this condition does not include aircraft which today are rated as quota count 0, 0.125 or 0.25). Such aircraft are not “aircraft classified as falling within Quota Count 0.5 and 1 for arrivals as defined by UK NOTAM S45/1993 issued by the Civil Aviation Authority and any succeeding regulations or amendments/ additions /deletions” (6(a) or “aircraft classified as falling within Quota Count 0.5 for departures as defined by UK NOTAM S45/1993 issued by the Civil Aviation Authority and any succeeding regulations or amendments/ additions /deletions” (6(b)).””

As a consequence, until and unless LCC approve the CLEUD application, then either QC0.25 aircraft are allowed to operate at night and count towards the cap (GALBA’s view), or they are not allowed at all (LBA’s view).

In either case, your statement “Aircraft with QC rating of 0.25 are exempt from counting towards Night Movement Quota” is incorrect.

I look forward to your response. If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Nick Hodgkinson

Chair of GALBA

 

For your information, the links below will take you to copies of the relevant documents (scroll down to the bottom of each page)

  1. The BCN issued by LCC in 2023, in respect of the 2022 breach
  2. The LCC letter confirming LBA’s breach of the BCN, issued in 2024
  3. LBA’s planning conditions, issued in 2007

[1] Subject to Condition 8 of the 07/02208/FU planning permission which permits that not more than 10% of the seasonal allocations defined by Condition 7 may be transferred between consecutive seasons.

[2] The limit on night flights is a “cap”, and not a “quota”.

[3] https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=S5NAN5JBKV200&activeTab=summary

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