Objections - In Brief

The Impact on the Climate

  • LBA wants to increase passenger numbers from 4 million per year now to 7.1 million by 2030 – not far short of doubling the passengers.

  • The impact would be a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are the cause of the climate emergency. Quite simply, doubling passenger numbers would mean doubling emissions - at a time when we should be drastically reducing them. The UK is legally bound by the Paris agreement which mandates limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2C, and the UK Climate Change Act, which mandates net zero emissions by 2050. Doubling emissions at LBA is clearly in contradiction to these.

  • Leeds City Council declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019 and committed to achieving a carbon neutral city by about 2030. The Leeds Climate Commission (a partnership of LCC, University of Leeds, local businesses, the local public sector and the third sector) has forecast that airport expansion would mean emissions from the airport become higher than emissions from the whole of the rest of Leeds by 2026. Expansion would render the target of 2030 impossible to meet, and LCC have admitted that ‘continued growth in aviation nationally is incompatible with the climate emergency’. There is little point in committing to a carbon neutral target and then allowing an airport expansion that makes target impossible to meet.

  • Planning applications are guided by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Paragraph 7 of 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’. Clearly this expansion does not meet the objectives set by the NPPF. Councils at Stansted and Bristol have been guided by this and turned down similar expansions.

  • The expansion flies in the face of the recommendations given by the committee that advises the government on climate change. In September 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change stated that we must limit aviation passenger growth to a maximum of 25% from 2018 to 2050. It said: “In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term. Our scenario reflects a 25% growth in demand by 2050 compared to 2018 levels.” LBA wants an increase of 72% in just 10 years, way beyond the recommended level.

  • The airport’s owners talk a lot about how ‘green’ the proposed new terminal will be. They don’t mention that the old building will still be used. And they don’t mention that emissions would DOUBLE from all the extra flights. The chair of Leeds Climate Commission said the reduced emissions from the new terminal are like ‘grains of sand’ compared to the increased emissions from extra flights.

  • Claims of mitigating the climate impact are false. LBA likes to rely on claims relating to improved performance of aircraft and reductions in fuel consumption. This is minimal and only applies to new aircraft. LBA have no control over the age, maintenance regime or replacement schedule of the aircraft that use its facilities, whether based there or not.

 

The Impact on Noise

  • 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 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 priority consideration – twice the flights mean twice the noise.

  • 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.”

The Impact on Air Pollution

  • Ultrafine particles (known as PM2.5) come from jet engines and are now one of the major health concerns relating to airport expansion. New research shows that they can have serious adverse health impacts even at levels well below current World Health Organisation 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. Safeguarding the health of the community must be a priority. consideration – double the flights means double the air pollution.

The Impact on Traffic Congestion

  • Double the flight means double the congestion and our roads are going to be full of traffic to the airport. The traffic will start earlier thanks to the unrestricted flights starting at 0600 and more flights at night.

The Economics Don’t Stack Up

  • The economic benefits of airport expansion are always overstated. Generally, airports like LBA which are based on low-cost airlines, do not make a sustainable contribution to the local economy – they are based on outbound leisure travel, taking money out of the country. Worldwide, airports are shedding jobs to give way to automation leaving low skilled, typically zero-hour, retail and catering work. Profits from LBA go to AMP, the Australian investment company that owns the airport. The health of the people in this region and the well being of the planet are far more important than the claimed economic benefits and the profits of AMP.

  • Once we get over the Covid crisis, how do we rebuild the economy and how do we deal with that other great crisis – the climate emergency? We actually have a historic opportunity to address both questions at the same time – investment in low carbon transport and infrastructure would reinvigorate the economy and address the climate emergency. To LCC and the Australian investment company that owns the airport - Yes, we need investment, but put it into low carbon, clean transport – not dirty, polluting industries such as this.

  • The economic case is out of date - LBA makes big claims about how expansion would help the local economy and create jobs. However LBA’s economic impact report is based on assumptions from before the COVID crisis (see paragraph 1.5). Everyone knows that the pandemic has changed all previous economic forecasts. In particular, aviation industry experts forecast that demand for air travel will remain low for some years. Any assessment of the application based on out of date assumptions would clearly be invalid. LBA should be required to produce a new economic assessment before the planning application is even considered.

  • Most passengers don’t benefit the local economy - 93% of LBA’s passengers use the airport for leisure. LBA’s own report says“these passengers do not generate significant wider economic impact (and are in fact sometimes viewed as a negative in terms of economic impact)”. 71.5% of all passengers take holidays abroad. How does spending money abroad help the economy in Leeds? LBA itself says that only 7% of passengers create a significant, positive, local economic impact. Even using LBA’s out of date, pre-COVID figures, they only expect 340 full time jobs to be created in the whole region (well beyond Leeds) by 2024 and only 2,310 by 2030 (though these forecasts are now invalid). Is that really more important than tackling the climate emergency and protecting the health of local communities?

Health and COVID-19

 

  • Expansion plans and public health - because LBA produced their planning application before the COVID crisis, their reports don’t take its impact into account. The government requires a two week quarantine period for almost all people coming into the UK. While that may change over time, it is bound to have an effect on all of LBA’s pre-COVID assessments. Similarly, social distancing requirements at airports are likely to last at least months, possibly years - we simply don’t know yet. Therefore consideration of the planning application should be deferred until we have a clearer understanding of how - and for how long - the pandemic will change the way we live.

© 2020 by Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA)