Press Release: Airport Campaigners Welcome Support from a Third Leeds MP, Hilary Benn
The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has welcomed support for their campaign to stop airport expansion from a third Leeds MP. Hilary Benn, MP for Central Leeds, has submitted his objection to Leeds City Council against LBA’s planning application.
Mr Benn said in his objection: “The grounds for my objection are the consequence of this development for the chances of Leeds meeting its climate targets.”
This follows similar objections made by Richard Burgon, MP for East Leeds, and Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West. They both oppose plans to expand the Yeadon airport.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “Three local MPs have now formally objected to the airport’s expansion proposals. All three have warned about the damage that would be done to the climate if LBA’s plans were approved by Leeds City Council.”
Chris added: “Mr Benn has noted something we’ve been saying. It’s impossible to separate the proposed new terminal from the extra emissions of additional flights using LBA. We agree with Mr Benn when he says: ‘I do not see how the emissions reductions targets for either Leeds, or indeed the UK, can be met if emissions from aviation at Leeds Bradford increase in the way planned - until such time as a zero-carbon means of powering planes into the sky becomes available’.”
Chris also said: “We need Leeds City Council to help local people move into safe and sustainable jobs. Jobs with a future, for the future.”
1) Hilary Benn MP objection to LBA planning application: the full text is below.
7 June 2020 Dear Mr Feeney
Re: Planning Application: Leeds Bradford Airport (20/02559/FU)
I am writing to object to the above planning application.The idea of replacing an outdated building with a more environmentally friendly building is not objectionable in principle, but it is not the main issue in this application.
The grounds for my objection are the consequence of this development for the chances of Leeds meeting its climate targets. I understand that the application states that the airport is expecting 7 million passengers per year by 2030, which is higher than the current figure. This will inevitably result in a higher level of CO2 emissions from more flights, even though it is said that the building and ground emissions from operations will be net zero from 2023. It is impossible to separate the infrastructure of the airport from the emissions of flights to and from it. I do not see how the emissions reductions targets for either Leeds, or indeed the UK, can be met if emissions from aviation at Leeds Bradford increase in the way planned until such time as a zero-carbon means of powering planes into the sky becomes available.
I am also concerned that there will be a noise impact from more flights in an expended take-off and landing time window, and inevitable traffic consequences in the area around the airport.
I would be grateful if you could take these objections into account in considering this application.
Best wishes Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP for Leeds Central
2) Richard Burgon MP objection to LBA planning application: the full text is available here.
3) Alex Sobel MP objection to LBA planning application: the full text is available here.
4) Climate impact of Leeds-Bradford Airport expansion: researchers at Leeds University have examined the climate effects of LBA’s expansion plans. The airport wants to double the number of passengers using the airport every year from 4m to 7.1m by 2030. This means that by 2030, the climate impact of all the extra flights would be double the target for all emissions for Leeds as a whole. By 2045, the overshoot would escalate to almost a factor of 10. By 2050, the combined climate impact of all flights through Leeds Bradford Airport since 2018 would be almost double the carbon budget for Leeds as a whole. Even if only one in five passengers are Leeds residents, their flights alone would use up 35% of the city’s entire carbon budget by 2050. The full article is available here.
5) 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.
6) 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 four of Exec Board Climate Emergency report, 7 January 2020.
7) 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.