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Press Release: GALBA Asks Information Commissioner to Make LCC Publish its Legal Advice

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) is demanding that Leeds City Council makes public legal advice it has received about the airport’s planning application. Planning Officers told a meeting of councillors that they have paid for advice from a barrister about the council’s obligations under climate change laws. But the Council has refused to reveal what the advice says so GALBA has written to the Information Commissioner’s Office, asking them to intervene and force the council to publish its advice.

GALBA has already made public its own legal advice from a barrister about the climate impact of airport expansion. That advice spells out that the councillors who decide LBA’s application must take into account all of the extra greenhouse gas emissions caused by expansion. Leeds University climate scientists have calculated that the airport’s emissions would double if it is allowed to expand. That would mean Leeds could not meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets that the council signed up to as part of its Climate Emergency Declaration last year.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “We’ve shown them ours - why won’t they show us theirs? It’s quite wrong of the council to keep this advice secret. It’s been paid for by Leeds council taxpayers and disclosure is very much in the public interest. People are entitled to know about decisions that affect them so we hope the Information Commissioner will take action soon. What does the council have to hide?”

Chris added: “This proposed airport expansion is a huge issue for people below the flightpath, who will suffer a big increase in aircraft noise. It’s also a huge issue in terms of the climate emergency – and that affects everyone on the planet. Leeds taxpayers have no way of knowing what advice is being given to the councillors and GALBA is not being given any opportunity to respond. It’s simply a matter of fairness.”

Additional notes:

1) Open legal advice: the barrister representing GALBA has sent her legal opinion to councillors on Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel. This advice sets out the legal reasons why LBA expansion would breach planning law and undermine local, regional and national commitments to make radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It has been published here.

2) 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. The graph attached illustrates this finding.

3) 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.

4) 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.

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