Airport campaigners have accused LBA’s chief executive of being selective with the facts in a letter he sent to local councillors and MPs. The letter tries to give reassurances about the extra noise that would be caused by the proposed expansion of the airport. Campaigners say that what’s left out of LBA’s letter is more important than what’s in it.
Chris Foren, chair of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “What Mr Rees does not point out is that LBA are asking for a relaxation of the noise permitted for take-off at night. There is only one possible reason for this – to allow noisier planes at night. LBA are proposing to scrap the current limit on the number of night time aircraft and propose a “noise quota” set at a level (pro-rata to the size of the airport) higher than at Manchester or Heathrow. It would allow the equivalent of 20 Airbus 320s every night for the 6 months of summer between the hours of 11.30pm and 6am.”
He also explained: “There’s a ‘noise map’ in LBA’s planning application which makes for interesting reading. It’s really important to understand that thousands of people in the city centre and to the south of the city centre would suffer more aircraft noise. These are areas where you wouldn’t expect to be affected by noisy planes.”
Chris added: “If LBA get their way, daytime would start at 6am when most people are trying to get another hour’s sleep and end at 11.30pm when most people are tucked up in bed. And it’s at these times that LBA want to fly the most flights, so their airlines can squeeze in two or three round trips per day. It’s not for the convenience of the passengers – who wants to check in at 3am? It’s purely so the airlines can maximise profits at the expense of the local community who suffer from the extra noise at these unsociable hours.”
“Of course, the people of Yorkshire need and deserve jobs, and high-value jobs are welcome. But most jobs created by LBA expansion would be in retail or airport ground operations, often low paid and insecure, with many at high risk of automation - for example, catering, security scanning, check-in and baggage handling. Anyway, LBA’s forecasts about job creation and economic gains are all based on pre-Covid figures – they are simply not credible.”
1) GALBA letter and ‘noise map’: a full copy of GALBA’s letter to councillors and MPs is attached. It includes the text of Mr Rees’ letter and the ‘noise map’ showing the areas of Leed and Bradford that would be affected by increased noise from LBA expansion.
2) Climate impact of Leeds-Bradford Airport expansion: researchers at Leeds University have examined the climate effects of LBA’s expansion plans. The airport wants to double the number of passengers using the airport every year from 4m to 7.1m by 2030. This means that by 2030, the climate impact of all the extra flights would be double the target for all emissions for Leeds as a whole. By 2045, the overshoot would escalate to almost a factor of 10. By 2050, the combined climate impact of all flights through Leeds Bradford Airport since 2018 would be almost double the carbon budget for Leeds as a whole. Even if only one in five passengers are Leeds residents, their flights alone would use up 35% of the city’s entire carbon budget by 2050. The full article is available here.
3) Wealthy minority take majority of flights: Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ was published in December 2019. It states that the majority of UK flights are taken by a minority of better off people. 70% of all flights are taken by 20% of the population; 100% of all flights are taken by 52% of people. These ‘frequent flyers’ are on higher incomes - the wealthiest 20% take 40% of all flights. The full report is available here.
4) Aviation expansion and achieving zero carbon are fundamentally incompatible - and new technologies are not on the horizon: Leeds City Council “accepts that aviation growth and meeting zero carbon targets are fundamentally incompatible until such time as new technologies are developed.”* Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ states: “In the medium to long term, there is some scope for technological change... However, the prospects for such innovations becoming widely adopted across the aviation sector in the short to medium term currently seem low - even if planes with new technologies became viable in the next decade, it would take many years for existing fleets to transition towards the new technologies. Given the nature of the climate emergency and the need to deliver deep reductions in emissions in the next decade, the growth of emissions from aviation therefore represents a major challenge.” Page 4 of Exec Board Climate Emergency report, 7 January 2020.
5) Leeds Climate Change Citizens Jury: the Jury was a group of 25 randomly selected Leeds residents, representative of the population of Leeds. They considered the climate change challenges facing the city and made recommendations about how Leeds needs to respond. Recommendation 9 was: “Leeds Bradford Airport expansion should be stopped; specifically Leeds City Council should not approve new road-building or selling land to develop… Residents should block expansion and be educated about the impact on the carbon footprint”. The jury also said that flying should be discouraged by measures including a frequent-flyer tax (based on income and number of flights and location) and by advertising holidays in the UK rather than abroad. The full report is available here.