The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport has revealed that the airport’s controversial expansion plans contain a fundamental mistake which means LBA’s planning application needs to be re-written. Today, GALBA's legal team sent a letter to Leeds City Council planning officers outlining the error and explaining why it would be unlawful to make a decision on LBA’s application as it stands.
GALBA investigated LBA’s claim that they already have permission to fly an unlimited number of some types of planes at night. However analysis of the existing rules about night flights shows that claim to be untrue. In their planning application, LBA are required by law to explain how much more noise and how much more greenhouse gas emissions would result from expansion. So by wrongly claiming that unlimited numbers of certain aircraft can already fly at night, the airport’s planning application dramatically underestimates the real increase in noise and greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore underplays the impact of expansion on the environment and local communities.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: "It's astounding and difficult to believe that LBA and its consultants could have made such a claim - - without doing some basic fact checking first. We hope that Leeds City Council will do the right thing and tell LBA to re-write their application. Or better still, reject it. If the airport is allowed to expand, it would double its greenhouse gas emissions in the middle of the climate emergency."
Estelle Dehon, the barrister representing GALBA, said: “LBA is legally required to provide the Council with information that allows the Council to assess the environmental impact of the proposed development. The error uncovered by GALBA means LBA has failed in that obligation, so it would be unlawful for the Council to determine the application as it stands.”
LBA’s overestimation of the number of planes it is currently allowed to fly at night infects several aspects of its application and is sufficiently serious that the Council cannot ignore the error. In order to comply with its legal obligations, the Council must insist that LBA overhaul the application using the correct information, or must reject the application because its environmental impacts cannot properly be understood.
1) Legal letter: a copy of the letter sent to Leeds planning officers by GALBA’s barrister is attached.
2) Planning law: Regulation 18(4)(b) of the Town & Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 requires the Environmental Statement section of a planning application to include “information reasonably required for reaching a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the development on the environment…”. If the information submitted is not sufficient, then the statement will not be an Environmental Statement within the meaning of regulation 18 and so the Environmental Impact Assessment cannot be considered to be complete.
3) Climate science: the Leeds Climate Commission and other experts in climate science from Leeds University have calculated that LBA’s proposals mean greenhouse gas emissions from the airport would exceed the amount allowed for the whole of Leeds, set out in the Leeds Carbon Reduction Roadmap, from 2030 onwards.
4) 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.
5) Decision day: no date has yet been made public for when the City Plans Panel of Leeds City Council will consider LBA’s planning application. However Leeds City Council’s website states that the “agreed expiry date” for LBA’s planning application is 30 November.