The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport has called on Leeds councillors to make the air we breathe cleaner and safer by rejecting the airport’s expansion plans. National Clean Air Day, on Thursday 8 October, will raise awareness of air pollution among the public and politicians. If Leeds Bradford Airport expands, it would mean 15,000 to 20,000 more flights every year, and tens of thousands more car journeys to the airport, causing more air pollution. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK - nearly five per cent of all adult deaths in Leeds are connected to exposure to air pollution.
Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. Children, the elderly and those with predisposed respiratory and cardiovascular disease, are known to be more susceptible to the health impacts from air pollution. Ultra-fine particles (known as PM2.5) come from aircraft jet engines. They are produced when planes take-off and land and have been found up to 14 miles from an airport. Medical research has confirmed the link between PM2.5 and heart and lung diseases.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “Everyone wants the air we breathe to be as clean as possible. We want our kids to be safe from illnesses like asthma. And we have a great opportunity to protect the quality of our air here in Leeds. We’re asking the councillors on Leeds City Plans Panel to say yes to clean air - and no to airport expansion.”
Chris added: “It’s not just the increase in dangerous particles from thousands of more flights a year that would damage our air if LBA is allowed to expand. It’s also the tens of thousands of extra car journeys to the airport, pumping out more pollution onto our streets. We all depend on the same climate and we all need clean air - so we all need to make healthy choices. We simply can’t allow LBA to expand and cause more damage to our air and our climate.”
1) Clean Air Day: more information here.
2) Leeds residents and air pollution: research reported in the YEP, January 2020.
3) PM2.5 particles and aviation: see this EU Aviation Safety Agency research.
4) Climate science: the Leeds Climate Commission and other experts in climate science from Leeds University have calculated that LBA’s proposals mean emissions from the airport would exceed the amount allowed for the whole of Leeds, in the Leeds Carbon Reduction Roadmap, from 2030 onwards.
5) Climate emergency: in March 2019, Leeds City Council declared a climate emergency and gave a commitment to make Leeds ‘net zero’ for carbon emissions by 2030.
6) Decision day: the closing date for public comments on LBA’s application is now 15 October. No date has yet been made public for when the City Plans Panel of Leeds City Council will consider LBA’s planning application - the next meeting is on 22 October.