The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has added its voice to national calls for an end to night time flying. In a letter sent to the aviation minister yesterday, a coalition of 17 environmental and community groups said there should be a ban on commercial flights between 11pm and 7am, to allow people living near airports to get 8 hours sleep.
The letter, signed by the Aviation Environment Association and the Aviation Communities Forum, points to research which shows a clear link between night flight noise, sleep deprivation, heart disease and strokes. The campaigners said that only emergency flights should be allowed at night. The government is expected to start consulting soon on a national policy for night time flying.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “LBA already flies planes between 11pm and 7am but a key part of their expansion plan is a huge increase in numbers. They want to cut the definition of ‘night’ by one and a half hours, which would mean no limit to planes taking off and landing from 6.00am until 11.30pm. If that wasn’t enough, they want to relax the limits on flights between 1130pm and 6.00am. The owners of LBA clearly want to make LBA a 24/7 airport and obviously value their profits above the lives or health of people living under the flight path. Aircraft noise is a serious problem and the World Health Organisation is recommending far lower noise thresholds to avoid damaging people’s health. LBA’s plan would allow the equivalent of 20 Airbus 320s every night for the 6 months of summer between 11.30pm and 6am. Studies of European Airports have shown the links between even a small increase in noise at night and higher blood pressure, strokes and heart conditions. Safeguarding the health of the community must be a priority Leeds City Council.”
Chris added: “LBA’s own planning application states that 123,000 more people will suffer more night time noise if the airport is allowed to expand. And it’s not just areas close to the airport that will be affected. Communities who are under the flightpath, will have their sleep disturbed too, including Armley, Bramley, Guiseley, Rawdon, Richmond Hill, the city centre, Holbeck, Belle Isle, Middleton, Rothwell and Robin Hood as well as Otley, Hyde Park, Headingley and north west Leeds.”
1) LBA expansion, noise and the ‘noise map’: according to LBA's own analysis, expansion would increase aircraft noise at around 2am, between 7pm and 9pm and around midday. Daytime flights would start earlier at 6am and finish later at 11.30pm. In addition, there would be 50% more aircraft-noise-related ‘awakenings’ during the night and at least 25 more flights per night loud enough to cause ‘sleep disturbance’ on a summer night. A copy of the ‘noise map’ showing the areas of Leeds and Bradford that would be affected by increased noise from LBA expansion is attached
2) Wealthy minority take majority of flights: Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ was published in December 2019. It states that the majority of UK flights are taken by a minority of better off people. 70% of all flights are taken by 20% of the population; 100% of all flights are taken by 52% of people. These ‘frequent flyers’ are on higher incomes - the wealthiest 20% take 40% of all flights. The full report is available here.
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. Post available here.
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.