Local campaigners against the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) say that today’s Court of Appeal decision about Heathrow’s third runway has major local implications. The Court of Appeal ruled that the government's decision to allow expansion of Heathrow was unlawful. It said the commitment to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 must be taken into account when considering whether to allow airports to expand. Protesters believe that means Leeds City Council planners must also take account of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that would be caused by LBA expansion.
Legal experts have commented that, for the first time, a court has confirmed that the Paris Agreement target to limit global heating is legally binding. This means that climate change must be at the forefront of all planning decisions. Every infrastructure decision in the UK - including AMP Capital’s plan to expand LBA - could face a legal challenge if it doesn't comply with the Climate Change Act. That Act commits the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Chris Foren, chair of local campaign group GALBA said: “Leeds Climate Commission has warned that AMP Capital’s plan to expand LBA would mean almost doubling its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 because of the extra flights. That’s plane crazy when we’re in a climate crisis.”
The Leeds Citizens Jury was a group of 21 local residents - a representative sample of Leeds as a whole - who met in autumn 2019. One of their key recommendations was that airport expansion should be stopped.
Disabled climate activist Nick Hodgkinson said: “Leeds City Council declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019. The Council rightly aims to make our city to zero carbon by 2050, hopefully even by 2030. But Leeds Climate Commission has forecast that airport expansion would mean emissions from the airport become higher than emissions from the whole of the rest of Leeds by 2026, as carbon is cut in other sectors.”
He added: “For the first time in any big business planning decision, people and the planet won. The Court of Appeal decision means that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option. We just can’t allow airport expansion and still hope to reach zero carbon by 2050. AMP Capital’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal at LBA must be rejected by Leeds City Council”