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Press Release: Bradford Council ‘Ignored Its Own Climate Emergency Declaration’ in Response to LBA

Bradford Council has ‘ignored its own Climate Emergency declaration’ in its response to the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport, say campaigners.

The group opposed to expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport has hit out at Bradford Council for ignoring the climate emergency in its response to the airport’s proposals. Bradford Council has told Leeds City Council that it has ‘no objection’ to the airport’s controversial planning application.

LBA’s plans would see passenger numbers rise from 4 million per year to 7 million by 2030. Climate scientists from the University of Leeds have warned that the proposed increase in flights would cause the airport’s greenhouse gas emissions to double. It would also mean a significant increase in noise pollution for families living under the flight path, especially Menston, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Ilkley.

Chris Foren, chair of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), said: “In 2019 Bradford Council declared a climate emergency - they said they understood the urgent need to tackle climate change. Now they say they have no objection to a huge expansion in aviation, which would mean a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, Bradford Council's response to LBA’s planning application says ​nothing at all​ about the climate emergency.”

Mr Foren added: “Bradford Council has failed its young people, who will suffer the effects of catastrophic climate change. They have also failed people in other parts of the world where the effects of climate breakdown will be felt first and worst. Bangladesh, Pakistan and sub-Saharan Africa will face water shortages, extreme heat and rising sea levels - forcing millions of people to move from their homes. Sadly, it looks like the fine words of Bradford Council’s climate emergency declaration are meaningless.”

Additional notes:

1) Aviation expansion and achieving zero carbon are fundamentally incompatible - and new technologies are not on the horizon: ​Leeds City Council “accepts that aviation growth and meeting zero carbon targets are fundamentally incompatible until such time as new technologies are developed.”* Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ states: “In the medium to long term, there is some scope for technological change... However, the prospects for such innovations becoming widely adopted across the aviation sector in the short to medium term currently seem low - even if planes with new technologies became viable in the next decade, it would take many years for existing fleets to transition towards the new technologies. Given the nature of the climate emergency and the need to deliver deep reductions in emissions in the next decade, the growth of emissions from aviation therefore represents a major challenge.” Page 4 of Exec Board Climate Emergency report, 7 January 2020.

2) Wealthy minority take majority of flights: ​Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ was published in December 2019. It states that the majority of UK flights are taken by a minority of better off people. 70% of all flights are taken by 20% of the population; 100% of all flights are taken by 52% of people. These ‘frequent flyers’ are on higher incomes - the wealthiest 20% take 40% of all flights. The full report is available here.

3) Leeds Climate Change Citizens Jury: ​the Jury was a group of 25 randomly selected Leeds residents, representative of the population of Leeds. They considered the climate change challenges facing the city and made recommendations about how Leeds needs to respond. Recommendation 9 was: “Leeds Bradford Airport expansion should be stopped; specifically Leeds City Council should not approve new road-building or selling land to develop... Residents should block expansion and be educated about the impact on the carbon footprint”. The jury also said that flying should be discouraged by measures including a frequent-flyer tax (based on income and number of flights and location) and by advertising holidays in the UK rather than abroad. The full report is available here.

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