Press Release: LCC's Climate Change Leader's Attitude 'Breathtakingly Irresponsible'


Campaigners against expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport describe attitude of Leeds City Council’s climate change leader as ‘breathtakingly irresponsible’


Less than a week after scientists issued a ‘code red’ warning to the world about the climate emergency, Leeds City Council’s climate change leader, Cllr Helen Hayden, backed the council’s support for airport expansion saying ‘if we don’t do it, someone else will.’ The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has described her attitude as breathtakingly irresponsible.


Chris Foren, Chair of GALBA, said: “Councillor Hayden has used the same argument that gets used by drug dealers and arms traders - ‘if we don’t do it, someone else will’. Last week’s report from the United Nations could not have been clearer. We’re on the brink of irreversible climate breakdown - wildfires, floods, extreme heat, drought, sea level rise and human migration on a massive scale. Climate scientists say we CAN avoid this but only if we all make radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible. We have to cut emissions in half by 2030 to prevent catastrophe but expanding LBA would mean DOUBLING its emissions by 2030.”


He continued: “Leeds City Council’s support for increasing the airport’s emissions is breathtakingly irresponsible. Of course we need to stop all airport expansions - and GALBA has joined with other campaigners around the country to call for an immediate halt. But we have to take responsibility for where we are and for everyone’s future.”


In an interview for BBC news Today Programme, Cllr Helen Hayden was asked why a council that wants its city to become net zero was backing airport expansion. She said “if we don’t expand, the fear is that somebody else will.” She has also claimed that LBA’s emissions make up just 1.5% of all Leeds emissions. GALBA has written to her asking for an explanation of how she got that figure.


Chris added: “Climate scientists from the University of Leeds have calculated that if LBA expands, its emissions will exceed the total amount of emissions allowed for the whole of the city of Leeds, every year from 2026 onwards. How on earth Councillor Hayden gets 1.5% is a mystery but I know whose figures I trust - the scientists.”


Additional notes:


1) Helen Hayden BBC news interview: Cllr Hayden was interviewed by Roger Harrabin at 06:42 on Radio Four’s ‘Today Programme’ on Friday 13 August. Her ‘1.5%’ claim is included in this BBC News Online article.


2) 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 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.


3) UK’s new emissions reduction target includes aviation: the government’s announcement can be found here.


4) UK-wide airport expansion moratorium call: GALBA has joined with 15 other local and national airport campaigns to call for an immediate halt to all airport expansion plans. Further details and a copy of the letter are available here.


5) 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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