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Press Release: GALBA Calls on Director of the Northern Powerhouse to Retract Misleading Claims

GALBA calls on Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse, to retract misleading claims about Leeds Bradford Airport expansion in a leaked letter due to be sent to the government this week

A letter in support of Leeds Bradford Airport expansion, due to be sent later this week to the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, has been leaked to the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA). The letter was written by Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse, on behalf of a group describing themselves as ‘leading employers across the Northern Powerhouse’. GALBA has highlighted glaring omissions and highly misleading claims in the letter and has called on Mr Murison to retract the claims.

Chair of GALBA, Chris Foren, said: “The letter is clearly intended to obscure the grim reality of airport expansion. It has four serious flaws. First, and most obviously, it claims LBA’s planning application does not seek ‘an expansion of operations’. But the airport’s owners have been very clear they want to increase passenger numbers from four million per year to seven million. That would mean at least 15,000 more flights per year - that’s obviously an expansion!”

“Secondly, Mr Murison does not mention at all the damage that expansion would do to our environment. Three million more passengers and 15,000 more flights means a massive increase in greenhouse gases. I can see why he ignores this fact. As the world appears to be waking up to the urgent need to cut greenhouse gases, the 75% increase in emissions that LBA expansion would cause doesn’t read well! When everyone else is working hard to cut their carbon, Mr Murison seems not to care about our future. The letter refers to ‘net zero aviation’ but there’s no such thing. That’s why the government’s expert climate advisers say that UK airports should not expand.”

Chris added: “Doesn’t Mr Murison know that the government is set to include greenhouse gases caused by flying in its new target to reduce emissions by 78% in the next 15 years? If LBA expands it would increase its emissions by 75% in the next 10 years.”

He continued: “Thirdly, the letter only refers to a new terminal building and makes a big play about its green credentials. As well as omitting to say that the existing not-so-green terminal will still be there, the letter doesn’t mention a key element of LBA’s application: extending daytime flying hours into the very early morning - and even later at night - and allowing a big increase in night flights. This would mean much more noise for tens of thousands more people in local communities.”

“Finally, the letter implies that expansion would ‘create’ 12,600 jobs. It won’t - not even LBA claims that! Their planning application says there’d be around 2,000 but we believe this is a significant overestimate. Mr Murison seems to be unaware of the recent YouGov survey of business travellers, which found that the majority intend to fly less, even after Covid restrictions are lifted. What’s more, the Financial Times reported yesterday that UK and European banks plan to slash their business trips after the pandemic. We can choose a different route to economic recovery. Just last week, research published by Green New Deal UK showed that investment in green infrastructure and social care would create nearly 12,000 good jobs in Leeds and over 7,000 in Bradford. If we make the right choices, we can have sustainable jobs that give people a decent living and tackle the climate crisis at the same time.”

Chris concluded: “We ask Mr Murison to retract the misleading claims in his letter. We will be writing to the Secretary of State to draw his attention to its errors and omissions.”

Additional notes:

1) Murison letter: a copy of the letter and Mr Murison’s covering email were leaked to GALBA on Monday.

2) Climate science and LBA expansion: the Leeds Climate Commission and experts in climate science from the University of Leeds have calculated that LBA’s proposals mean greenhouse gas emissions from the airport would double in the next 10 years and exceed the amount allowed for the whole of Leeds, as set out in the Leeds Carbon Reduction Roadmap, from 2026 onwards. See the report here.

3) UK emissions target to include aviation: the government’s announcement can be found here.

4) LBA job creation claims: an explanation of the job creation claims made in LBA’s planning application is attached below. It forecasts 1,810 full time jobs in Leeds or 2,310 in West Yorkshire, with most of the additional 500 in Bradford.

LBA job creation false claims
Download DOCX • 16KB

5) YouGov survey: an online survey of business travellers and their experience of the changes in business travel. 1,414 respondents completed the survey in total across seven countries: UK, Denmark, Spain, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany. More information can be found here.

6) Financial Times: the report can be found here.

7) Green New Deal UK sustainable jobs: research published in April assessed the potential for investment in ‘green’ jobs. It found that 11,600 could be created in Leeds and 7,300 in Bradford - see attached summary below. More detailed information is available here.

Green jobs in Leeds and Bradford
Download XLSX • 11KB

8) Public inquiry decision postponed: on 6 April, Secretary of State Robert Jenrick postponed his decision on whether to call in LBA’s application for a public inquiry. This means that no changes can be made to flying hours at LBA until a final decision is made.

9) Photo: a high resolution photo of a giant projection onto Leeds Civic Hall of the words ‘Stop Leeds Bradford Airport expansion’ is attached below. The photo is owned by GALBA and we freely give it for publication but please credit the photographer, Neil Terry.

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