Leeds Bradford Airport accused of breaking rules by making over 600 more night flights than allowed this summer
Airport campaigners, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), have made a formal complaint to Leeds City Council about the number of night flights from Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) during this year’s summer season, which ended yesterday. The campaigners say that LBA has exceeded the number of night flights it is allowed to operate by over 600 flights. GALBA has asked Council enforcement officers to investigate the airport’s rule breaking as quickly as possible and take action to stop LBA flouting the rules.
Ian Coatman is a GALBA member who lives in Horsforth, near the airport. He said: “LBA’s recent controversial planning application - which they abandoned in March this year - would have allowed the airport to almost double its passenger numbers. Although LBA tried to hide it, the most important part of that application was for a big increase in the number of night flights.”
“Even though they dropped their planning application, LBA’s bosses have repeatedly claimed this year that the airport would double in size anyway. That raised a lot of eyebrows because LBA is limited by strict rules on the number of passengers and, crucially, the number of night flights they can operate. Now we see what they meant - LBA appears to be simply ignoring the rules!”
To protect the health of those living under the flight path, the rules place strict limits to the number of take-offs and landings between 11pm and 7am. LBA’s ‘quota’ for the 2022 summer season (corresponding to British Summer Time) was 2,920. 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 has significantly exceeded the night time limit.
Andy Tate, a GALBA member who lives under the flight path in north west Leeds, said:
“We’ve monitored the number of night flights over the summer season using real time flight data information available online. LBA was allowed 2,920 night flights but we have found that LBA actually operated an incredible 600 more flights than allowed. Night time flying is bad news for anyone living under the flight path. 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. We are asking Leeds City Council to put the health of Leeds and Bradford citizens before the profits of LBA. The Council has a duty to stop the airport from breaking the night flight rules.”
Leeds City Council has acknowledged receiving GALBA’s complaint and said it will investigate “as a matter of urgency”. GALBA awaits a response from Chris Sanderson, the Council’s Principle Compliance Officer in Planning Enforcement.
1) Night flight rules: LBA operates under a cap on night time flights under its current planning conditions. Leeds City Council has responsibility for monitoring and enforcing those conditions. They define the Summer Season as British Summer Time, which was 27 March to 30 October in 2022. 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. Due to the impact of the pandemic during the previous winter season, the cap of 1,200 was not reached. Consequently, the limit on night time aircraft movements during the 2022 Summer Season was 2,920.
2) Summer Season 2022: GALBA has monitored the number of night flights over the summer season using real time flight data information available online. Up to 7am on 27 October, GALBA had recorded 3,496 night flights, which is 576 above the limit. Night flights consistently exceed 10 per night, which means that the limit will be breached by over 600 before the end of the summer season. GALBA will publish the final figure on 31 Oct 31.
3) Delayed Flights: GALBA is aware of comments by the CEO of LBA that delayed flights do not count towards the quota. This is false. The delayed flight exception applies only to older, and noisier, aircraft that are not normally allowed to fly at night at all. None of these older types of aircraft now operate at LBA, so the ‘delayed flight exemption’ does not apply. GALBA also notes that delayed flights only make up a small number of night flights and would not in any case explain the breach of the conditions. In fact, LBA scheduled more night flights than is allowed, so if all aircraft had operated at their scheduled time, the quota would still have been exceeded.
4) 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 their website: www.galba.uk