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Press Release: When is an Expansion Not an Expansion? When it's an LBA Expansion!

Airport campaigners have reacted with a mixture of surprise and anger at the bizarre claim by the chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport, Mr Hywel Rees, that the planned 75% increase in passenger numbers would not be an expansion!

Chris Foren, chair of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “This is simply a ridiculous claim. LBA’s application makes it absolutely clear that the Australian owners want to expand passenger numbers from 4 million passengers per year to 7 million by 2030 - and that this simply wouldn’t be possible without the new terminal and the relaxation of flight restrictions during the night and early morning. It’s the whole reason for the application and to claim that doesn’t represent an expansion because they won’t go beyond 7 million is bizarre. Perhaps it shows the desperation of Mr Rees in the face of mounting opposition to the expansion?”

Chris went on: “Perhaps Mr Rees needs to reacquaint himself with his application. It says quite clearly that without the proposed development, the airport has a maximum capacity of around 5.5 million passengers per year. Indeed, maybe he should ask the Chief Planning Officer of Leeds City Council what he thinks? In his report to councillors at the start of LBA’s current planning application, the Chief Planning Officer wrote: ‘The previous extension would only have allowed for passenger numbers to increase to 5 million by 2023 after which time LBA would have had to re-examine the site to look at ways to expand the airport.’”

Chris added: “Mr Rees thinks he can take the public for fools and is trying to mislead us. He never mentions in the press that he wants to extend flying hours and remove the limit on flights allowed at night. LBA’s pre-Covid crisis passenger numbers were about 4 million per year. An expansion to 7 million is roughly a 75% expansion. But Mr Rees never mentions that a 75% increase in passenger number means a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions, noise, air pollution and traffic - all of which will be borne by the people of Leeds".

Additional notes:

1) LBA’s current planning application (ref:20/02559/FU) is available on the Council’s Planning Portal​: available here.

2) LBA’s planning application confirms it needs LCC permission to expand to 7 million passengers per year - two examples: The airport is required by law to publish an Environmental Statement. This shows what damage might be caused if airport expansion goes ahead. The airport looked at two possibilities: if the application is refused (called Without Development) and if the application is approved (called With Development).

a) In Environmental Statement, Vol 2 Appendix: Socio Economic Assessment, on p68, para 6.1 LBA state: “This section considers the potential future impact of Leeds Bradford Airport under two different scenarios: - Without Development – whereby the airport continues operating its existing terminal building with no major capacity enhancements, which is estimated to have a maximum capacity of around 5.5 million passengers per annum (mppa); - With Development – closure of the existing terminal building in 2024 and the opening of a new passenger terminal capable of handling up to 7 mppa."

b) Environmental Statement, Vol 1, chapter 7, Climate Change - Table 7-5, p20 and Table 7-9, p26. LBA provides a forecast of the additional greenhouse gas emissions that would result from expansion. The forecast says that if the current planning application is refused (Without Development scenario), LBA’s emissions would rise from 326 kilotonnes per year now to 349 kilotonnes per year in 2030, as the airport expands from 4 to 5 million passengers per year. If the current planning application is allowed (With Development scenario), its greenhouse gas emissions would increase from 326 kilotonnes per year now to 491 kilotonnes per year in 2030 - 149 kilotonnes ​more ​than in the Without Development scenario. LBA is clear that those extra greenhouse gas emissions would come from the additional flights necessary for the 3 million extra passengers.

3) Leeds City Council’s Chief Planning Officers report: ​this was submitted on 30​ ​January 2020 to the Leeds City Plans Panel in respect of the pre-application stage of LBA’s current planning application: ref PREAPP/20/00018 - New Terminal Building and Change In Daytime Flight Regime at Leeds Bradford International Airport. A full copy is attached. Para 7.3 says: “The previous permission for an extension to the terminal hoped to provide internal modifications to address the existing issues on site to deliver improvements... It also would have facilitated an increase in the capacity at the airport from approximately 4 million passengers per year (mppa) to 5 mppa by 2023.” Para 7.5 goes on to say: “The previous extension would only have allowed for passenger numbers to increase to 5 mmpa by 2023 after which time LBA would have had to re-examine the site to look at ways to expand the airport so it could reach its anticipated capacity of 7 mmpa by 2030.”

4) 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 7m 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. The full article is available here.

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