A leading planning barrister has told Leeds councillors that they are under a legal obligation to consider the climate impact of LBA’s expansion plans. Estelle Dehon, representing the Group for Action on LBA, sent her legal advice to Leeds City Council on Friday 16 October. In her advice, she said that it would be ‘unlawful’ not to consider all of the additional greenhouse gas emissions caused by airport expansion or to assume these emissions are the responsibility of national government. The proposed increase to 7 million passengers per year would mean the airport doubles its greenhouse gas emissions by 2032.
Ms Dehon’s legal advice explains: “In the context of airport development, the main emissions are those caused by increasing domestic and international flights. The [Planning Committee] is legally obliged to consider all these emissions.” Her advice goes on to state that it would be lawful for Leeds City Council to reject LBA expansion because of the damage it would do to the climate and to local, regional and national commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “This legal advice makes it clear that Leeds councillors can say YES to a safer and healthier future by saying no to airport expansion. They can stand by their own Climate Emergency Declaration and live up to the promises they made to young people.”
Erin McVeigh, a 15 year old Youth Strike 4 Climate activist from Bradford, said: “Airports feel the need to constantly expand in order to increase their flights and to boost their profits. But this has a devastating effect on the climate and is fuelling global warming. LBA expansion would take us too many steps in the wrong direction, if we hope to keep climate change at bay. The welfare of our planet and the people (us!) should come first.”
Chris Foren added: “If LBA is allowed to expand, it would pump out more greenhouse gases than the whole of the rest of Leeds by 2030. The climate emergency is real and we have a real opportunity to tackle it, here in Leeds, by making the right choices for our future.”
1) Open advice to LCC: a copy of the legal opinion sent to Councillors on Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel is attached.
2) Estelle Dehon: Estelle is a leading environmental and planning barrister, who practices at Cornerstone Barristers. She is available for comment and interviews. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) 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.
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.