VOICES OF THE FUTURE: Leeds Bradford Airport explansion is at odds with city’s climate targets

In this week’s column, Shawna Healey explains why the Leeds Bradford Airport expansion will have damaging consequences on the UK’s climate targets:

By Shawna Healey
Friday, 5th March 2021, 6:00 am

Approved plans for a new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport is a step backward for the council’s plan of net-zero carbon by 2030.

Leeds Bradford Airport’s (LBA) plan to build a new state-of the-art replacement terminal was approved by the council last month.

Despite claims of environmental efficiency, the expansion plans have been met with criticisms from climate activists.

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The expansion scheme, which has been controversial since its announcement last year, has an opening target of 2023 and will cost around £150m.

The proposal aims to dramatically improve passenger experience and deliver one of the UK’s most environmentally efficient airport buildings, supporting the region’s economic prosperity in the process.

The West Yorkshire anti-airport expansion group, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), has written to the Secretary of State for local government, Robert Jenrick, asking him to “call in” on the approval for the airport’s expansion.

If Mr Jenrick agrees, the airport’s planning application will be dealt with at a public enquiry.

GALBA believes that the LBA expansion is equivalent to the decision to open the first Cumbrian deep coal mine in 30 years. The similarities are striking. Both decisions have been made in the same year that the UK hosts COP26.

Chris Foren, GALBA chairman, said: “To say the least, this decision is embarrassing for the UK’s reputation as a global leader on tackling the climate crisis.”

“The Secretary of State has the power to intervene and he should now exercise that power”, he added.

The plans include increasing the amount of passengers through their doors from four million to seven million. There is also talks of Leeds City Council spending up to £100 million on new roads to connect the airport to the city.

A petition was started by a Leeds based climate change activist group, Zero Carbon Headingley, for the council to reject the expansion plans.

The group said: “We call on Leeds City Council to reject plans to build new access roads to Leeds Bradford Airport.”

The group backs up their statements insisting: “The road would aid an expansion in the number of daytime and night-time flights using the airport, which fundamentally goes against the Leeds City Council declaration of a climate emergency.”

The airport estimates the development will support 12,650 permanent jobs across Leeds City Region as well as creating 850 construction-related jobs in the build process.

Research suggests that the airport expansion could add 1,227 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1,020 kilotonnes allowed for the whole of Leeds in 2030.

Scientists say expansion would represent “business as usual” and lock in higher CO2 emissions.

If similar developments were replicated around the world, it would lock us into a climate catastrophe, highlighting how the proposed development is not only incredibly harmful but also unfair.