Leeds Bradford Airport expansion decision delayed by communities secretary Robert Jenrick
Plans for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) face a delay after the Government said it needed more time to decide whether to 'call in' the application.
Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has decided his department needs longer to investigate whether to review the decision to build a new terminal building.
The "state of the art" £150m building was given the go-ahead by Leeds city councillors in February.
The outcome paved the way for the new terminal, an increase in passengers from four million to seven million a year and the expansion of daylight flying hours from 6am to 11.30pm.
But campaigners, academics and environmentalists have warned flights in and out of Leeds needed to dramatically reduce in order to help humanity avert climate catastrophe in the coming years.
As secretary of state for the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Mr Jenrick has the power to take the decision on the planning application out of the hands of Leeds City Council by calling it in for a review.
It was referred to his department as it would constitute significant development on green belt land.
Chris Foren, chair of GALBA (Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport), said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen environmental groups, community groups, MPs, scientists and literally thousands of people, writing directly to the Secretary of State asking for a public inquiry. Thousands more have signed our petition.
"We hope that the delay is a sign that Mr Jenrick is taking those requests very seriously.”
He added: “Leeds City Council has refused to accept responsibility to safeguard the health of our communities, our climate and future generations.
"As a consequence the ball is in Mr Jenrick’s court.
"We urge him to take that responsibility and order a public inquiry.”
In February LBA chairman Andy Clarke told the YEP his team would "work with whatever is thrown at us" to get their new terminal building over the line.
The airport insists the new terminal is not an expansion, as it can already expand passenger numbers with its existing facilities, and that the replacement building will help it achieve its carbon net-zero goals.
A spokesperson for LBA said: “We acknowledge the deadline extension and hope that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will uphold Leeds City Council’s approval for our replacement terminal, which will deliver thousands of new jobs and support the region’s economy.
"Our proposals will deliver the UK’s most efficient terminal building, enabling us to become a net zero airport, building back better and enhancing connectivity within the UK and internationally.”
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “We have been informed today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government that the Secretary of State will take some additional time to consider the Leeds Bradford Airport planning application.
“The application is a complex one and has generated a significant amount of interest at both a local and national level.
“We await the Secretary of State’s decision in due course.”
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The Secretary of State would be misguided to pull the plug on a shovel-ready project which has the potential to unlock huge connectivity benefits for Yorkshire businesses and communities.
“It would give the North a fairer share of flights, lowering the number of travellers forced to drive down to Heathrow.
“By keeping benefits of aviation concentrated in only London and the South East, protestors are risking Northern jobs and livelihoods - just as the recovery could be about to kickstart genuine economic rebalancing by allowing businesses to better distribute their talented people across the UKs city regions.”
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