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Press Release: GALBA Responds to Northern Powerhouse's LBA Survey

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has responded to media reports of a Northern Powerhouse survey on airport expansion.

Chris Foren, Chair of GALBA, said: “The results are interesting but the questions asked do not appear to be about LBA’s actual planning application. We’re pleased to read that half of people surveyed said that any approval of the airport’s expansion plans should be ‘contingent on a limit placed on the number of flights it operates.’ But here’s the thing - LBA isn’t proposing any limit on the number of flights it operates! So we don’t understand why Northern Powerhouse asked that question. Obviously, we’ve only seen press reports so we’ve asked for a copy of the survey questions and answer options. We haven’t had a response. We do know this: if LBA’s application is approved, it would mean at least 16,000 more flights per year, 3 million more passengers per year and a massive increase in greenhouse gases and noise.”

LBA’s controversial planning application seeks permission to extend daytime flying hours by 90 minutes, lasting from 06:00 to 23:30, and change night time flying controls. It also aims to build a new terminal. The application forecasts an increase in passengers from 4 million per year to 7 million, with 16,000 more flights per year. There is no proposal to cap the number of flights or passengers.

Chris continued: “So the survey is interesting but it appears to ask people about a fantasy planning application, not LBA’s actual proposals. It’s no surprise to read that support for expansion is stronger among wealthier people. They’re much more likely to be ‘frequent flyers’ who cause far more emissions than most people, who take just one holiday flight a year. If expansion is allowed, these ‘frequent flyers’ would fly more often and LBA would almost double its greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years. This would be the opposite of the government’s commitment to cutting the UK’s emissions by 78% in the next 15 years. And it would be the opposite of the Climate Change Committee’s advice to stop airport expansions.”

“LBA’s planning application is very controversial, with many differing and strongly held views. So let’s have it dealt with at an independent public inquiry, where the all evidence can be considered by civil servants and lawyers with expertise in planning law. That’s what GALBA has asked for and I don’t understand why Mr Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse, doesn’t want that to happen.”

Chris concluded: “Mr Murison claims that expansion would ‘create and support 12,000 jobs’. That’s not true. LBA’s own application claims it would create around 2,000, which we have good reason to believe 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 this week 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.”

Additional notes:

1) 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 almost 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.

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

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

4) 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.

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

6) 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. More detailed information is available here.

7) LBA does not currently have permission to expand to seven million passengers per year: extracts from LBA’s planning application, LCC’s planning officer’s report and the Section 106 agreement can be found here, along with further explanation of why LBA does not currently have permission to expand to seven million passengers per year.

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.

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