Campaigners call for immediate end to Leeds Bradford Airport expansion as they join national climate protest

Campaigners staged a protest outside Leeds Bradford Airport this weekend, calling for an immediate end to plans for its expansion.

Members of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) joined a national day of action against airport expansions in the UK, to coincide with with UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow.

The protest was held outside LBA at 11am on Saturday, with demonstrations also taking place at Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, London City, Southampton, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow airports.

Campaigners are protesting against the Government's promises to use new technologies and alternative fuels to reduce the impact of international flights on the environment.

GALBA campaigners protesting outside Leeds Bradford Airport

They say these technologies will take decades to be put in place and have called for the immediate end to airport expansion to reduce carbon emissions caused by the aviation industry.

GALBA's chairman, Chris Foren, said: "The government and the aviation industry claim that new technology means we can carry on flying as much as we like despite the climate crisis. It’s deeply irresponsible to spread these false claims.

"The experts on the Climate Change Committee (CCC) say that such a ‘techno-centric’ approach has a high risk of failure. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has told us we need to halve our emissions by 2030 to reach net zero by 2050.

"For decades, the aviation industry has promised that its techno-fixes will make everything alright. But that’s never happened and it’s not going to happen in the nine years we have left to stop climate breakdown.

Leeds City Council voted to approve expansion plans at Leeds Bradford Airport, subject to conditions. Pictured: A CGI image of the airport proposals

"We simply have to stop expanding all airports - now.”

LBA’s planning application for a new £150m terminal was approved in principle by Leeds City Council earlier this year. But campaigners, as well as both Labour and Tory MPs supported calls for a public inquiry.

On April 6, the then communities secretary Robert Jenrick postponed making a decision on this request, giving no timescale, and leaving the future of the plans in limbo. Michael Gove has since taken over Mr Jenrick’s role, but it is still not known when a decision will be made.

Scientists from the University of Leeds have backed GALBA's campaign, warning that there is no "realistic prospect" of international flying becoming zero carbon by 2050.

But the chairman of LBA, Andy Clarke, said the expansion will help to support the region's economy as it recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released following the approval of the plans in principle, Mr Clarke said: “"If fully approved, our scheme would enable us to become a net zero airport, delivering a much-improved passenger experience and creating thousands of jobs, helping to support our region’s recovery.

"We look forward to working with officers and hearing the final decision of the committee in due course.”