Why Oppose Expansion?

Support the call for a public inquiry

 

We are asking Secretary of State Robert Jenrick to ‘call in’ LBA’s application and have it considered at a public inquiry. Just like the Cumbria coal mine, which has now been ‘called in’, LBA expansion is not a purely local matter. Please write to Robert Jenrick and to national newspapers to support the call for a public inquiry. Guidance on how to Take Action is on this website.

Please make a donation and join the campaign today.

What does Leeds Bradford Airport want?

 

LBA wants to expand from four million to seven million passengers annually. To do this, it needs permission to:

  1. Extend daytime flying hours to start at 06:00 and finish at 23:30

  2. Allow an unlimited number of flights between 06:00 and 23:30

  3. Permit noisier planes, and an unlimited number of planes, to take off between 23:30 and 06:00

  4. Build new car parks and a new terminal for additional passengers

 

Why do we oppose expansion?

The Climate Crisis: protect our future
 

LBA expansion would mean a huge increase in the airport’s greenhouse gas emissions. Leeds City Council has signed the UK100 Net Zero Pledge and committed to make the Leeds district carbon net zero by 2045. However from 2026 an expanded airport would pump out more emissions than are allowed in the carbon budget for the whole of Leeds. We all depend on the same climate so we all need to protect it. Sir David King, the government's former chief scientific advisor, has warned: “Time is no longer on our side… what we plan to do over the next 10 to 12 years will determine the future of humanity for the next 10,000 years”. Read more...

Animation credit: Christopher Harry.

 

Noise and Health: put people first

Noise seriously harms human health and interferes with people’s daily lives at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It disturbs sleep, causing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Aircraft noise is a serious problem and the World Health Organisation recommends far lower thresholds to prevent adverse health impacts from aviation. Safeguarding the health of local communities must be a priority – twice the flights mean twice the noise. Read more...

Animation credit: Christopher Harry.

Air Pollution: let us breathe

The quality of the air we breathe would be damaged by the increase in both daytime and night time flights and the large increase in road traffic . This would cause more emissions and damage air quality for communities living near the airport. Leeds Public Health has warned: “Older people and people with limiting long term illness and disability, particularly those with respiratory conditions, will therefore be disproportionately affected...” Read more...

Animation credit: Christopher Harry.

Jobs and Economy: green new deal

LBA has made exaggerated claims about the economic benefits for West Yorkshire and the new jobs that expansion would bring. Airports around the world, including LBA, are planning to replace workers with technology - because machines are cheaper than workers. LBA also wants to take thousands more people and their money out of the local economy to spend it abroad - just when we’re trying to recover from Covid. When this ‘tourism deficit’ is taken into account, airport expansion would mean an overall loss to our local economy. Read more...

Animation credit: Christopher Harry.

Road Congestion: rat-runs and tailbacks

 

Double the flights means double the congestion. Roads approaching LBA would be clogged up with cars taking the three million extra passengers to the airport every year. As those roads become congested, more people will use ‘rat-runs’ through towns and villages on their way to LBA. The traffic would start earlier in the morning and continue during the night, thanks to unrestricted flights starting at 6am and more flights at night. The key test for any planning development is whether it complies with the Council’s Core Strategy. LBA’s plans do not. Read more…

 

Planning Rules: it’s the law

 

When considering LBA’s planning application, the Council is under two legal obligations relating to the climate impact of the proposal. It must understand whether the proposal will have a significant impact on the environment by contributing to climate change and take that impact into account. And it must consider the climate change impact when it decides whether the proposal fails to comply with the Leeds Core Strategy and the National Planning Policy Framework, which requires planning decisions to “shape places in ways that contribute to a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”.  Read more…

 

 

Climate Crisis: protect our future


LBA expansion would mean a huge increase in the airport’s greenhouse gas emissions. Leeds City Council has signed the UK100 Net Zero Pledge and committed to make the Leeds district carbon net zero by 2045. However from 2026 an expanded airport would pump out more emissions than are allowed in the carbon budget for the whole of Leeds. We all depend on the same climate so we all need to protect it. Sir David King, the government's former chief scientific advisor, has warned: “Time is no longer on our side… what we plan to do over the next 10 to 12 years will determine the future of humanity for the next 10,000 years”.

Greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of the climate crisis. Nearly doubling LBA’s passenger numbers would mean doubling its emissions. And this would happen over the same 10 years that climate scientists warn we must cut emissions as fast and as much as possible. If we don’t stop damaging the climate, it will continue to damage us ever more severely. Scientists forecast more extreme weather and rising seas that will destroy the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. But we can stop this by radically cutting emissions. We can choose the future we want by making the right decisions today. And we’ve already started...

The UK is legally bound by the Paris Agreement which mandates countries to cut their emissions so that we can limit the global temperature rise to well below 2C. The UK’s own Climate Change Act also mandates net zero emissions across the country by 2050. That’s too late - the UK needs to be carbon neutral by 2050. In December 2020, the Committee on Climate Change also told the government that there should be no increase in airport capacity across the UK because new technology isn’t being developed fast enough. So stopping LBA expansion and preventing it doubling its emissions means we can do our bit to support these commitments.

Leeds City Council declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019 and in December 2020 committed to making Leeds carbon net zero by 2045 saying ‘We will do everything within our power and influence to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions’. The Council has also accepted that continued aviation growth is incompatible with tackling the climate emergency. The Leeds Climate Commission (a partnership of the Council, University of Leeds, local businesses, the local public sector and the third sector) has forecast that LBA expansion would mean the airport’s emissions exceed the carbon budget for the whole of the rest of Leeds by 2026. So stopping LBA expansion would help our city reach carbon net zero by 2045.

The airport’s Chief Exec has claimed that new technology will soon make flying ‘carbon neutral’. But in September 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change advised the government that there is no realistic prospect of zero carbon flying on a commercial scale before 2050. In December 2020, the Committee on Climate Change also told the government that there should be no increase in airport capacity across the UK. That’s too late - the UK needs to be carbon neutral by 2050. So stopping LBA expansion would mean we follow the advice of the country’s leading climate experts.

The airport’s owners have talked a lot about how ‘green’ the proposed new terminal would be. That's great but they don’t mention that the old building will still be used. Nor do they mention that the airport’s emissions would double because of all the extra flights. The professor who chairs the Leeds Climate Commission said the reduced emissions from the new terminal are like ‘grains of sand’ compared to the increased emissions from extra flights. So stopping LBA expansion would mean we follow the science, not the marketing spin. 

Climate scientists at the University of Leeds have analysed climate damage and calculated the additional emissions that would be caused by LBA expansion. You can read it by clicking here.

Please make a donation today - and please ask your family and friends to donate as well. Thank you.

 

Noise and Health: put people first

Noise seriously harms human health and interferes with people’s daily lives at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It disturbs sleep, causing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Aircraft noise is a serious problem and the World Health Organisation recommends far lower thresholds to prevent adverse health impacts from aviation. Safeguarding the health of local communities must be a priority – twice the flights mean twice the noise.

LBA can fly planes 24/7 but there are currently restrictions between 23:00 and 07:00. LBA wants to shrink this time by 90 minutes, making 23:30 and 06:00. This means that peak activity at the airport would start at 06:00 - though in reality flights are likely to ramp earlier (as happens now). There will be new peak noise times during the day as the earlier flights return for their next load and the last flights will be returning up to 2.30am​

At night, the overall limit on the number of permitted flights would be removed. LBA’s proposals would also permit noisier planes to take off at night time than are allowed currently and its ‘quota system’ would allow 5,500, or many more, modern planes to fly. The proposals do not distinguish between summer and winter, so these flights could all take place in summer; the current limit is 2800. Unlike Manchester and the London airports, LBA would have no limit on the total number of flights per night.

LBA’s own application says that 123,000 people, including thousands in central and south Leeds and areas north west of Leeds, would be exposed to increased night-time noise at levels that have a noticeable effect, this could be ‘highly disturbed sleep’ or cause people to be ‘highly annoyed’. The Noise and Vibration section of LBA’s application admits that expansion “…will result in an adverse effect on health due to increased noise.”

Leeds Public Health department has pointed out that the number of people affected by ‘intermittent high level noise events’ would rise from zero now to 2,800 in 2030. They also explain: “Research has shown that people wake far more easily in the morning hours, so an intermittent high level noise event between 06:00 and 07:00 is more likely to result in an awakening and prevents someone going back to sleep.  This may ultimately result in long-term sleep deprivation, cardiovascular disease and reduction in quality of life.”

The map below shows how many communities would suffer increased noise from LBA expansion. The areas shaded pink and purple would be the worst affected.

Please make a donation today - and please ask your family and friends to donate as well. Thank you.

 

Air Pollution: let us breathe

 

The quality of the air we breathe would be damaged by the increased air traffic, the extension of night time flying and increased road traffic from more people driving to LBA. This would cause more emissions and damage air quality for communities living near the airport. Leeds Public Health has warned: “Older people and people with limiting long term illness and disability, particularly those with respiratory conditions, will therefore be disproportionately affected and are likely to spend more time at home.”

Ultrafine particles (known as PM2.5) come from jet engines and are now one of the major health concerns relating to airport expansion. Research shows that they can have serious adverse health impacts even at levels well below current World Health Organisation guideline limits. They are produced not only at aircraft take-off and landing but have also been found up to 14 miles from an airport. The research confirms. previously known associations between PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Safeguarding the health of the community must be a priority. consideration – double the flights means double the air pollution.

Air quality in the vicinity of airports is not just influenced by the emissions from aircraft engines, but also from other sources such as ground operations, surface access road transport and airport on-site energy generation and heating. The most significant emissions related to health impacts from aviation activities are particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these primary pollutants undergo chemical and physical transformations in the atmosphere that in turn produce other pollutants such as secondary particulate matter and ground-level ozone.

You can read more about aviation and air pollution here.

Please make a donation today - and please ask your family and friends to donate as well. Thank you.

 

Jobs and Economy: green new deal

 

LBA has made exaggerated claims about the economic benefits for West Yorkshire and the new jobs that expansion would bring. Airports around the world, including LBA, are planning to replace workers with technology - because machines are cheaper than workers. LBA also wants to take thousands more people and their money out of the local economy to spend it abroad - just when we’re trying to recover from Covid. When this ‘tourism deficit’ is taken into account, airport expansion would mean an overall loss to our local economy. read more

How many jobs will be created if expansion goes ahead?

Absurdly optimistic estimates of job creation have been made by LBA. It argues that air travel will return to normal within two years. This is contrary to the industry consensus that passenger volumes will not return to 2019 levels until 2024. Even this date is optimistic. There will be a long term decline in business travel as frequent travellers have discovered cheap and easy conference facilities such as ZOOM. This also affects the optimistic figures for airport related productivity. Second home ownership in Europe will likely decline after Brexit as various constraints kick in. And the economic recovery after CoVid and Brexit in an already weak economy may well depress travel even further.

Most important is that massive investment is taking place in automation. Contactless airports are already a reality with automated check in, baggage drop and biometric boarding - just Google Singapore’s Changi new terminal.  The purpose of all these innovations is not to improve the customer experience but to drive down labour costs. Even the pilots’ trade union, BALPA, warns “Don’t begin pilot training – there aren’t any jobs”. With the rationalisation of European air space soon to be implemented even fewer air traffic controllers will be needed.  Tax free shopping will also decline after Brexit with new rules in place. For example the UK is expected to be the only country in Europe not to offer tax-free shopping to international visitors. This will affect jobs in the shopping mall.

Whatever jobs might be created with expansion will mainly be low paid, probably contracted out and at a place of work not easily accessible by public transport for most people.

What are the economic benefits if the expansion goes ahead?

There has been much hype about the predicted economic benefits to the region with figures as high as £2 billion over 25 years being splashed in newspaper headlines.  This is a complex issue - the famous quantum physicist Niels Bohr quipped: ‘Predictions are very difficult, especially about the future’. Who could have predicted Covid?  Scientific evidence suggests that pandemics are now more likely to recur. Who would have predicted the collapse in retail physical stores? – not the business strategists who fuelled  the expansion of Leeds city centre in the past 15 years.

However it is undoubtedly the case that there is a significant ‘tourism deficit’ for the region which was not factored in by the airport’s management in their planning application. This deficit is the amount of money that leaves the UK when residents take a holiday abroad thus not being available for spending in the UK where it would contribute to job creation. We are not of course saying that people should not take a holiday abroad, it’s just that in economic terms it is money that must be put on the deficit side for the region. As Brendon Sewill writes in ‘Airport jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax’: “It is not necessary to say that people ‘ought’ to take holidays in the country. Nor would it be correct to say that environmentalists are kill-joys who want no-one to have a holiday in the sun. But if the jobs created by aviation are to be counted, then the jobs lost by aviation must also be included”. The fact is, a lot more people leave West Yorkshire to go on holiday abroad than come here from abroad. So there’s a net loss to our economy.

The profits generated at LBA do not stay in the UK – unlike for example Manchester airport where the largest shareholder is Manchester City Council. The owner of Leeds Bradford airport is AMP Capital – a global investment firm based in Australia. AMP was criticised in the Australian Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry published in 2019.  AMP admitted that it had continued to deduct life insurance premiums from deceased customers' superannuation. ABC news service in Australia wrote: “Early on in the hearings, the Big Four banks and AMP reluctantly admitted they had deliberately charged fees without any intention of delivering services. All up, they reckoned it amounted to around $220 million between them.” Would you trust this company with your future?

GALBA believes that workers in the aviation industry should be helped to find good quality, safe and sustainable jobs in low carbon sectors of the economy. We need a green new deal that gives people jobs with a future, for the future. For example, we urgently need to super-insulate thousands of homes across West Yorkshire and fit heat pumps to keep them warm. Leeds Trades Union Council has objected to LBA expansion and proposed an alternative route to rebuilding our local economy after the Covid crisis. You can read more here. A joint report by PCS, Greenhouse and Green New Deal UK on the urgent need for jobs investment at Gatwick is available here.

Please make a donation today - and please ask your family and friends to donate as well. Thank you.

 

 

Road congestion: rat-runs and tailbacks

Double the flights means double the congestion. Roads approaching LBA would be clogged with cars taking the 3 million extra passengers to the airport every year. As those roads become congested, more people will use ‘rat-runs’ through towns and villages on their way to LBA. The traffic would start earlier in the morning and continue during the night, thanks to unrestricted flights starting at 6am and more flights at night. The key test for any planning development is whether it complies with the Council’s Core Strategy. LBA’s plans do not.

 

The Leeds Core Strategy has a specific policy on LBA expansion which says that a planning application will only be supported if it meets four criteria. Three of these relate to surface access (roads and rail). Spatial Policy 12 says the Council will support expansion subject to:

  • (a) Provision of major public transport infrastructure (such as Tram or Train) and surface access improvements at agreed passenger levels

  • (b) Agreement of a surface access strategy with identified funding and trigger points

  • (c) ...

  • (d) The management of any local impacts and implementation issues, including visual and highway issues.

 

So do LBA’s plans meet these criteria? No. The application does not include any proposals for major public transport infrastructure, since the Council dropped its previous link road proposal. So there is no way to manage the impact of increased traffic. Nor is there any agreed surface access strategy that has funding. In the absence of new infrastructure, the road traffic generated by the proposed 75% increase in passenger numbers would have severe local highway impacts.

Please make a donation today - and please ask your family and friends to donate as well. Thank you.

 

 

Planning rules: it’s the law

When considering Leeds Bradford Airport’s planning application, the City Plans Panel of Leeds City Council is under two legal obligations relating to the climate change impact of the proposal:

  • (1) The Panel cannot grant or refuse planning permission unless it:

    • (a) understands whether the proposal will have a likely significant impact on the environment by contributing to climate change and

    • (b) takes that impact into account in making its decision on planning  permission. 

  • (2) The Panel is obliged to consider climate change impacts when it decides  whether the proposal fails to comply with the Core Strategy Spatial Policy 12 because of its adverse environmental effects and whether it fails to comply with paragraph 148 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which requires planning decisions to “shape places in ways that contribute to  a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”. 

 

This is the obligation in regulations 3, 4 and 26 of the Environmental Impact  Assessment Regulations 2017.It would be unlawful for the Plans Panel to ignore the climate change impact of the proposal, or to assume that the impact can be accommodated (for example, by assuming that national carbon budgets can absorb any extra emissions; or by assuming any international carbon reduction schemes will reduce or neutralise extra emissions). If the Panel made these assumptions, it would be doing the opposite of what the Environmental Impact  Assessment Regulations require. Ignoring the climate change impact would also fail to understand Spatial Policy 12 and paragraph 148 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

 

This is a brief summary of the ‘open advice’ sent to councillors by GALBA’s barrister. She has explained why Leeds City Council has the power and the opportunity to reject LBA’s planning application. You can read the ‘open advice’ in full here.

Please make a donation today - and please ask your family and friends to donate as well. Thank you.

 

© 2020 by Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA)