Airport campaigners reveal that Leeds Bradford Airport has broken the night flight rules – again
It’s time to prosecute the airport, say campaigners
For the second year running, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has revealed that Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has broken the rules that limit the number of night flights during the summer season. The campaigners say that LBA breached the limit on 28 September, despite its boss having promised earlier this year that this would never happen again.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “These rules exist to protect public health but LBA has a habit of breaking rules. Last summer, we alerted the Council to the airport’s behaviour and the Council issued a ‘breach of condition notice’ after finding that there had been 747 more flights than allowed from LBA.”
“In June, Vincent Hodder, the airport’s boss, said ‘we have put in place all the controls and reports necessary to make sure these errors will never happen again.’ Well, these ‘errors’ have happened again. It shows that you just can’t trust LBA, particularly its statements about the way it operates flights. The Council has already warned the airport that a failure to comply with the breach of condition notice is a criminal offence that is liable to prosecution through the courts. Now we expect the Council to prosecute LBA.”
Chris added: “Clearly, this is all linked to LBA’s recent application to the Council to ‘clarify’ the night flight rules. What that really means is they want to reinterpret the rules so that some types of planes, and all late arrivals up to 1am, won’t be counted towards the night flight cap. LBA says the rules are ‘unclear’ but the Council was clear what they meant when they punished LBA for breaking the rules last year. It’s only Mr Hodder who seems confused. Could that simply be because he doesn’t like the rules?”
To protect the health of those living under the flight path, the rules place strict limits on the number of take-offs and landings between 11pm and 7am. LBA’s ‘quota’ for the 2023 summer season (corresponding to British Summer Time) was 2,920. GALBA has monitored the number of night flights over the summer season, using real time flight data information available online. After taking into account permitted exceptions - such as emergencies or late arrivals of aircraft that cannot normally fly at night - GALBA’s monitoring reveals that LBA exceeded the 2,920 flights on 27 September.
Andy Tait, a GALBA member who lives under the flight path in north west Leeds, said: “Night time flying is bad news for anyone living under the flight path. It isn’t just people living close to the airport who are affected. We’ve been contacted by people as far away as Beeston and Bramley, who tell us that noisy planes are the talk of the playground, particularly among autistic children. The disturbance from these flights is a major cause of all kinds of serious health issues. That’s why there are rules – to protect the public.”
1) LCC’s Planning Enforcement Statement, 6 June 2023: Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said: “If the Breach of Condition Notice is not complied with this can escalate into summary prosecution that can be brought in the Magistrates’ Court for the offence of contravening a breach of condition notice.” The full statement is available here.
2) Night flight rules: LBA operates under a cap on night time flights under its planning conditions. Leeds City Council has responsibility for monitoring and enforcing those conditions. They define the Summer Season as British Summer Time, which is 26 March to 29 October in 2023. The night time period is defined as 23:00 hours to 07:00 and an aircraft movement is defined as a landing or a departure.
The maximum number of night time aircraft movements in the Summer Season is set at 2,800 and in the Winter Season at 1,200. Up to 10% of ‘unused’ night flights from the previous season may be transferred to the next season. The cap of 1,200 was not reached. Consequently, the limit on night time aircraft movements during the 2023 Summer Season is 2,920. 3) GALBA: is a group of concerned citizens from across West Yorkshire who successfully campaigned against a planning application by Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to expand by three million passengers a year. More information about GALBA is available on our website: www.galba.uk