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Open letter to Leeds City Council from GALBA about night flights

March 13 2024 • 3 minute read

With just three weeks to go until LBA's 2024 summer season starts, Leeds City Council has still not made a decision on GALBA's complaint that the airport broke the night flight rules in the 2023 summer season. Nor has the council made a decision LBA's night flight CLEUD planning applications. GALBA has written to all Leeds councillors asking them to make sure these decisions are made before the end of March. Here is our letter...

We would like to remind all councillors that the night time flying restrictions, imposed by LCC as a condition on the current planning consent for LBA, exist for a good reason: to protect public health

Dear Councillor

On Friday we learned that no decision has been made on two important matters relating to public health and Leeds Bradford Airport. Furthermore, there is no date when these decisions will be made. As a direct result, the Council is effectively allowing LBA to continue to break the conditions of its planning consent. We are writing to you to ask you to expedite these decisions to protect the citizens of Leeds.

You will be aware that Leeds Bradford Airport has submitted four applications (known as CLEUDs) which aim to reinterpret the rules that limit the number of flights allowed at night. You may also remember that last year, GALBA submitted a formal complaint that LBA had exceeded the night flight rules in summer season 2023, having broken the same rules in summer season 2022.

We would like to remind all councillors that the night time flying restrictions, imposed by LCC as a condition on the current planning consent for LBA, exist for a good reason: to protect public health.

Jet fuel releases tiny ultrafine particles that pollute the air and cause lung problems. These particles can be found several miles away from the airport, as well as under the flightpath. The noise from night time flying also has well established links to health problems, including heart disease and poor mental health.

For example, research has shown that when night flights increase, so do hospital admissions for cardiovascular health issues, including deaths. This is why there are limits to night flying. We believe Leeds City Council should make protecting the health of its citizens a higher priority.

It would be an outrage if LBA simply ignores the rules again this year and exceeds the permitted number of summer season night flights for a third year running - every extra night flight is bad for local people and bad for the climate

It is deeply frustrating to learn that a decision is highly unlikely to be made on either LBA’s CLEUDs or our 2023 complaint before the start of LBA’s 2024 summer season – in three weeks’ time. We understand the severe financial pressures on the Council but we have supplied the Planning Department with detailed evidence, about both the CLEUDs and LBA’s 2023 rule breach, to make it as simple as possible for them to make these decisions.

GALBA’s 2023 night flight breach complaint followed on from a similar complaint in 2022. This was upheld by Planning and a ‘breach of condition’ enforcement notice was issued against LBA. The Council warned LBA that if it happened again, they could face criminal prosecution.

We carried out exactly the same monitoring for the 2023 summer season and, again, we found that LBA had broken the rules. We made a formal complaint to the Council on 30 October 2023 and we are still waiting for a decision, despite LCC saying it had set up improved monitoring arrangements after the 2022 breach. The 2024 summer season starts on 31 March and it appears that no decision will be made before then.

It would be an outrage if LBA simply ignores the rules again this year and exceeds the permitted number of summer season night flights for a third year running. Every extra night flight is bad for local people and bad for the climate.

We ask you to expedite the decision on our complaint so that people whose health is affected by LBA’s flights can be assured that Leeds City Council is protecting its citizens.

Thank you

Ian Coatman

Secretary, GALBA

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