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Press Release: Airport Campaigners Welcome Support from Leeds MP, Richard Burgon

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has welcomed support for their campaign to stop airport expansion from a second Leeds MP. Richard Burgon, MP for East Leeds, has submitted an objection to Leeds City Council against LBA’s planning application. Last week Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, submitted his objection against the Yeadon airport’s expansion plans.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “We agree with what Mr Burgon wrote in his objection - ‘the proposed expansion would contribute to the situation of environmental danger faced by all of our society - locally, nationally and internationally’.

Chris added: “It would be plane crazy to allow the airport to double its greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years. Scientists all over the world are warning us that we have to cut emissions as fast as we can. The Council must help local people find other jobs - jobs with a future, for the future.”

In his objection, Mr Burgon said: “This LBA expansion was proposed prior to the current Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on air travel. It would seem very ill-advised not to at the very least defer this application until such time as the future situation is clearer.”

Additional notes:

1) Richard Burgon MP objection to LBA planning application: the full text is available here.

2) Alex Sobel MP objection to LBA planning application: the full text is available here.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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 LeedsCity 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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