Campaigners have criticised Leeds Bradford Airport’s expansion plans, set out in a planning application published by Leeds City Council on 13 May. The airport’s Australian owners, AMP Capital, want to increase passenger numbers from 4 million per year now to 7 million in 2030. To do that, they need permission from the Council to extend flying times - flights would start at 6am and finish at 11.30pm. And AMP Capital wants to build a new terminal.
The planning application contains 200 documents of technical information. Yet Leeds City Council’s Planning Department has only allowed 3 weeks for the public to respond. The deadline is 3rd June.
Chris Foren, Chair of the airport campaign group GALBA, said: “It’s ridiculous to expect local people to read, understand and respond to such a lot of technical detail in just 21 days. This decision is extremely important for the future of the region - that timescale is completely unfair and unrealistic.”
Chris warned: “Expansion would bring more noise for local communities, increased air pollution, more traffic congestion and pump much more CO2 into the atmosphere - making the climate emergency worse. We need to rebuild a healthy economy in Leeds. We don’t need an unsustainable development like this.”
He added: “Every aviation industry expert has said that demand for air travel will remain low for several years. Naturally, people won’t want to risk being in an enclosed space - breathing other people’s air - until COVID-19 is long gone. There’s simply no need to expand the airport.”
The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has vowed to fight the airport’s plans, taking legal action if necessary. Similar campaigns against expansion of Bristol, Heathrow and Stansted airports have been successful recently. GALBA members are confident they will stop expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport too.
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 is available here. 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.
6) How to find LBA’s planning application on Leeds City Council’s website: Go to the Leeds CC planning portal, click on the green box: ‘search planning applications using public access’, then enter the LBA application reference number in the box: 20/02559/FU and click on search.