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Press Release: GALBA Calls on New Council Leader to Prove He is 'Passionate About Climate Change'

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

On Thursday 11 March, Leeds councillors will meet again to consider Leeds Bradford Airport’s planning application. Campaigners from the Group for Action on LBA have called on new Leeds City Council leader James Lewis to show that he is ‘passionate’ about the climate emergency and speak out against airport expansion.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “Last week, Councillor Lewis said ‘we’re passionate about the climate change agenda in Leeds’ and told us that new district heating networks will save 11,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. That’s good but we wonder if Councillor Lewis understands that is the equivalent of just 92 return flights to Malaga. To put this into perspective, LBA wants 252 extra flights per week during the summer time. So the savings made in a year from the heating networks would be gone in less than 3 days. We’re asking Councillor Lewis to show everyone how ‘passionate’ he is about climate change by adding his voice to the thousands of people calling for expansion to be stopped.

In a further development, lawyers from Friends of the Earth have written to Leeds Planning Officers to highlight legal mistakes at the planning meeting on 11 February, which gave conditional approval to LBA expansion. The letter warns Leeds City Council that they failed to take into account the Committee on Climate Change’s requirement for no net airport expansion and failed to consider greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. Friends of the Earth have advised Leeds councillors to reconsider their decision at their meeting on 11 March.

Chris Foren added: “The fact that Leeds councillors were told to ignore emissions from flying is legally wrong - as well as making no common sense. We’re pleased that Friends of the Earth have also written to the Council pointing out their mistakes. On Thursday, those councillors have another chance to live up to their promise to do everything within their power to tackle the climate emergency by rejecting LBA’s application.”

Additional notes:

1) James Lewis ‘passionate about climate change agenda’: see this article on 3 March in the Yorkshire Post.

2) Greenhouse gas emissions calculation: we have used the Atmosfair flight offsetting calculator. We calculated greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions for a return trip, in economy class, on a scheduled flight from LBA to Malaga. We assumed 170 passengers were flying on a Boeing 737-800, which is commonly used by Jet2. The climate impact of one passenger is 704kg GHGs; 704kg x 170 passengers = 119.7 tonnes GHGs per flight; 92 flights x 119.7 tonnes GHGs = 11,012.4 tonnes GHGs. 252 extra flights per week = 36 per day; 92 / 36 = 2.6.

3) Friends of the Earth legal letter: a copy is available here.

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

5) GHG emissions increase from 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.

LBA’s planning application underestimated the GHG impact of expansion by at least a factor of four. Taking into account all emissions sources, it would result in an additional 11.3 Mt CO2e by 2050. This would cause a significant effect beyond its immediate locality and would have an appreciable impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets. Looking at the whole of the 60 year lifespan of the proposed expansion, from 2024-2084, it would cause an additional 22.5 Mt CO2e. This means its impact would be felt long after the date by which the United Kingdom has committed to achieve net zero.

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