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Press Release: Airport Campaigners Challenge LBA Statement About Extra Noise from Proposed Expansion

On Wednesday 2 June, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport shared some key findings about the extra noise that people would endure if the airport is allowed to expand. LBA issued a statement in response which raised more questions than it answered.

Chris Foren, Chair of GALBA, said: “LBA encourage people to read their application on the Council’s website. That’s exactly what Peter Bonsall did. He’s the Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at Leeds University so he knows what he’s talking about.”

“LBA’s statement claimed that Professor Bonsall’s analysis was wrong in some respects. But they gave no reasons to explain why they think it’s wrong. We’d love to hear their explanation.”

LBA’s statement claimed that its proposed changes to day and night time flying hours would be the same as Manchester or Heathrow. However Professor Bonsall points out that the proposed ‘quota budget’ for LBA is, pro-rata to the size of airport, higher than those at Manchester and Heathrow.

He said: “Unlike Manchester and Heathrow, LBA would not have to limit the total number of flights. Yes, they propose a quota budget but without a cap on numbers like that in place at Manchester and Heathrow, the proposed budget would allow a very considerable increase in the number of flights between 2330 and 0600.”

Chris Foren added: “LBA say they’ve proposed measures to mitigate noise. But most of the items listed in Appendix 10.7 of their application are vague, some just continue existing practice, some simply offer to ‘consider’ or ‘explore’ introducing measures and others are just proposals to monitor and report. That’s simply not good enough.”

Additional notes:

1) Comments by GALBA and Professor Bonsall on the LBA press release, 2020-06-03: LBA said “We respect the views of others and have taken great lengths to consult with all interested parties.”

  • Communities in NW Leeds have been given no representation on the Airport Consultative Committee despite frequent requests.

  • The two days of Pre-Application public consultation were held far away from the flight path and no events were held north west Leeds nor in Horsforth.

  • LBA’s email to people on its circulation list emphasised the plan for a new terminal. but omitted any mention of the proposed relaxation of restrictions on night flights.

LBA said “We have performed an assessment on noise compiled by leading aviation noise experts, which is publicly available on the planning portal and illustrates how noise impact will be minimal.”

  • Whether the impact is or is not ‘minimal’ is a question for the Council, and the. thousands of people likely to be affected, to decide.

LBA said “The claims relating to 26,100 more people and 1 and 50 more planes are misunderstandings of our data on the planning portal and are incorrect”.

  • In what way? We would welcome an explanation from LBA.

LBA said “LBA already has consent to fly 24 hours and already flies from 06.00. The proposed change to daytime hours is about normalising LBA’s operation to align it with other UK airports, providing improved choice and a level playing field for both business and leisure flights.”

  • LBA are not seeking a level playing field, they want one which favours them. For example, both MAN and LHR have number caps as well as quota count budgets.

LBA said “The airport will continue to limit the aircraft that can operate during the night based on the amount of noise they can produce. These limits are more stringent than those which exist at other UK airports.”

  • The proposed quota budget at LBA is, pro-rata to size of airport, higher than those at MAN or LHR.

LBA said “It is incorrect that we would be imposing fewer noise restrictions than at Manchester and Heathrow airports. The restrictions that are being proposed are more stringent in terms of the types of aircraft that fly at night, and would seek to set a limit on the total amount of noise at night”

  • MAN and LHR have lower limits on total noise, pro rata to size of airport and have other restrictions which LBA does not propose.

  • We would welcome further evidence from LBA to back up their claim.

LBA said “The aim of the restrictions is to limit the amount of noise that can be produced annually, whilst allowing the airport to grow. In reality, there would be a range of aircraft types operating at the airport. Under the new arrangements, greater limitations are placed on noisier aircraft than quieter aircraft.”

  • But, unlike MAN or LHR, LBA would not also have to limit the total number of flights.

LBA said “LBA is not seeking to remove flight controls”.

  • Professor Bonsall did not say otherwise. He simply referred to relaxation of restrictions and to the abolition of existing restrictions during the shoulder periods

LBA said “As part of the development, we are planning on doing more to mitigate noise through changes to operations and the implementation of new noise insulation measures.”

  • Most of the items listed in Appendix 10.7 are vague, some are continuation of existing practice, some are simply commitments to consider introducing something or to explore the possibility of introducing something and some are simply proposals to report on achievement of goals.

LBA said “This includes a noise quota system that applies between 2330-0600, and a noise exposure limit that applies throughout the entire night-time period (2300-0700).”

  • MAN and LHR have lower limits on total noise, pro rata to size of airport and have other restrictions which LBA does not propose.

  • The night time noise limit would actually permit noisier planes to take off than are permitted under the current restrictions.

LBA said “The point about abolishing the existing cap on the number of noisy flights between 2300 and 0700 is taken out of context. The existing cap is aircraft specific, and does not apply to all aircraft operating at the airport.”

  • We agree, as Professor Bonsall said, it applies only to the noisiest.

LBA said “The proposals are to limit noise in the form of a noise budget, which will apply to all aircraft operating at the airport over an annual period.”

  • However without a cap on numbers like that in place at MAN and LHR, the proposed budget would allow a very considerable increase in the number of flights between 2330 and 0600.

LBA said “Commercial aircraft arrivals & departures will increase from circa 30,000 per annum to circa 46,000 per annum (not 70,000 as has been reported)."

  • Professor Bonsall did not mention 70,000.

LBA “This is about meeting the projected demand for 7 million passengers in a more sustainable way.”

  • The Leeds Climate Commission has forecast that increasing passengers to 7million per year would mean doubling LBA’s emissions in the next 10 years.

LBA said “We have been clear in our proposals about estimated impact on noise and flight numbers”

  • As Professor Bonsall noted, the estimates were made pre-Covid and are based on the assumption that airlines will be able and willing to invest in new, quieter, aircraft. If this assumption turns out to be over-optimistic, the noise impacts will be worse than predicted.

LBA said “The aviation industry as a whole – including airlines - has a target to become carbon net zero by 2050; this has not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  • The Leeds Climate Commission and the UK Committee on Climate Change both reported in 2019 that there is no realistic possibility of zero carbon aircraft in the short to medium term.

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