Extinction Rebellion throw fake 'blood' on steps of Leeds Civic Hall following approval of Leeds Bradford Airport plans

Protesters from Extinction Rebellion have thrown fake 'blood' across the steps of Leeds Civic Hall following the council's decision to approve the Leeds Bradford Airport plans.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 5:29 pm

Leeds City Council members approved the airport's £150million plans in principle in a dramatic on Thursday, February 12.

Councillors voted by nine votes to five to agree to the plans in principle, in a crunch meeting the came to a close at around 10pm last night after hours of painstaking deliberation, comments and questions.

They asked planning officers to renegotiate conditions on the matters raised by the panel during the meeting.

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Extinction Rebellion protesters throwing fake 'blood' on the steps of Leeds Civic Hall.

The updated plans will now return to the council’s plans panel committee at a later date.

The expansion plans include a new terminal with three main floors and improved vehicle access, which is to be built closer to a proposed new ‘parkway’ rail station, new car parking areas, as well as a new bus terminal and taxi drop-off facilities to the front of the new passenger terminal.

Planners also want to modify flight time controls, and to extend the daytime flight period available at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Campaigners voiced their views about environmental and noise concerns, while supporters said the infrastructure would improve the economy and could go on to establish the city as a leading business hotspot.

Extinction Rebellion protesters pictured in 2020.

Today, protesters from climate change action group Extinction Rebellion threw a bucket of of fake 'blood' across the steps while shouting that the council has "blood on its hands".

A spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion said: "Leeds City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019.

"We have been presented with ambitious targets and community building ideas.

"The choice to allow the expansion of the airport, and completely disregard their own commitments to reach carbon neutral by 2030 is a disgrace.

"They have made a mockery of all of their empty promises and shown themselves to be inadequate at their job, unable to link unambiguous objectives with real life situations.

"This has led them to making this decision which fails to safeguard their constituents against the traumas of the climate crisis.

They added: "There has recently been the emergence of new studies suggesting that we have greatly underestimated the impact of air pollution on human health, with as high as 1 in 5 deaths globally being attributed to pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels.

"They have sentenced hundreds of thousands of their own citizens to a premature death. Leeds City Council, you have blood on your hands."

Environmental concerns were raised by several councillors during the meeting.

Voting against the proposals, Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) said: “The climate emergency represents a civilisation level threat. I wish that was hyperbole but it is not.

“There is about 10 years left to avoid catastrophic climate change. This application will prevent Leeds from becoming climate neutral by 2030.

“I think we have a solemnly duty to think about the people of Leeds and I will be voting no.”

And Coun Al Garthwaite (Lab) added: “I don’t want to be part of making a decision that is going to cause illnesses and death in the next 20 years.

“I think it is too soon to be doing what is suggested”

“The effect on people, biodiversity and all our lives. I don’t think it is right.

“I didn’t become a councillor in order to do harm and my thinking is that agreeing to this at this stage is to do harm.”

However, other councillors said the decision was very "complex" and said that a "balance" had to be struck.

Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab) said: "I do think people will continue to fly.

"I do not in any way underestimate the fundamental and urgent need to address climate change immediately.

"I am really torn inbetween the balance [between the economical benefit and climate issues].

"It's been a really complex debate and I think we need to look at those conditions much more analytically."

Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab) added: “I don’t think there is a single member of the council not concerned about pollution.

“But we can’t act like King Canute trying to hold back the waves.”

Coun Robert Finnigan (Independent) added: “I am concerned that if we don’t take this economic opportunity someone else will.

“I am worried we will be in the same position in terms of climate change.

“It is with great reluctance that I would support this particular application but only on the proviso that we go back and revisit the conditions.”

Following the decision, Andy Clarke, Chairman of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We thank the Plans Panel for all their diligent considerations and we are delighted with their support in principle.

"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.”

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: "The council recognises that the Leeds Bradford Airport planning application has been the subject of much public debate and, from the moment it was first submitted, full and proper attention has been paid to the evidence and arguments put forward by supporters and opponents alike.

“There were a large number of matters for plans panel members to consider during this process, including the council’s declaration of a climate emergency and the issue of increasing carbon emissions from flights.

"Current Government policy points to these emissions being something that should be primarily tackled at a national level – and addressed through international agreements and protocols – rather than by suppressing growth at individual airports in a way that could simply export passengers to other nearby airports at a higher financial cost to them and increase surface transport emissions.

"The city plans panel also took into account matters such as the impact of aircraft noise on residents and the airport’s proposals for noise mitigation and landscaping as well as planned accessibility improvements designed to encourage a greater proportion of passengers and staff to use public transport for their journeys to and from the site.

"In addition, the airport’s plans showed that the proposed new terminal would replace the outdated and inefficient existing terminal and be built to a higher standard of environmental performance that would also provide an improved ‘gateway’ to Leeds, with an associated creation of new jobs.

"The application has been approved by the city plans panel today taking into consideration all of these issues, subject to a change and tightening up of certain conditions being discussed and agreed with the applicant, a section 106 agreement and referral to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The council is keen to continue working closely with local residents, businesses, community associations and the airport as the development begins to take shape.”