Extinction Rebellion hold ‘socially distanced’ protest against airport plans outside Leeds civic hall

Activists held a socially-distanced protest outside Leeds Civic Hall earlier today, calling on Leeds City Council to reject plans to expand Leeds Bradford Airport.
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Organisers Extinction Rebellion unfurled a banner reading “fly today, gone tomorrow” outside Leeds City Council’s Civic Hall headquarters, while keeping the government-advised two-metre distance between one another.

The group claims the proposed expansion, yet to be approved by council planning chiefs, will add to climate change due to the increased number of flights likely to take place.

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A response sent by Leeds Bradford Airport claims the proposed expansion is a ‘long term investment’ that generates prosperity, economic growth and jobs.

Protesters outside Civic Hall earlier today.Protesters outside Civic Hall earlier today.
Protesters outside Civic Hall earlier today.

Christopher Hoare, a member of Extinction Rebellion, who helped organise the protest said: “We think it went well. It’s important we get out our message peacefully.

“I want the message to go to the councillors – we want to put the pressure on them.

“The economic predictions for growth were all submitted pre-Covid-19 – it makes them irrelevant now.

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“I would like to encourage people to get in touch with their local councillors – it’s the biggest way we can now have an impact.”

A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion said: “By expanding Leeds Bradford Airport, Leeds would secure short term economic growth by ignoring longer term issues such as the climate crisis and public health risks caused by increased emissions.”

“Leeds is heavily polluted already, with air quality often exceeding the World Health Organisation’s safe limit.

“We understand people’s desire for the short term security of economic growth, but the climate crisis is unique. It forces us to make bold choices now in order to avoid being faced with impossible choices later, such as whether or not we can sustain our population once man-made climate change has rendered large tracts of land unfarmable and air unbreathable.”

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Early LBA expansion plans are to replace the airport’s existing terminal with a brand new £150m facility on a nearby site. The plans are yet to go before a planning committee for full approval.

A spokesperson for Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We always value feedback from members of the public and interested groups and we have consulted extensively both with interested members of the public and environmental experts to ensure that our plans create an efficient replacement terminal for the future.

“We cannot deny that infrastructure is a long term investment that generates long-term prosperity, regional economic growth and jobs for the future, and we are confident that air travel will continue to form an essential part of our region’s infrastructure in the future.”

They claimed that the plans were done to a high environmental standard, adding: “Our plans include the proposal to build one of the most sustainable airport buildings in the world of BREEAM standard, only awarded to the most efficient buildings globally. As part of that commitment we have worked with leading experts to determine the best approach and have formulated proposals based in fact that demonstrate impact on noise will be minimal.

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“We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and are working in collaboration with our airline partners to minimise the impact of their operations on the environment. Our replacement terminal will allow us to also meet the demand for seven million passengers in a more efficient way, and we have been very clear in our proposals that flights will not double.

“We are committed to supporting regional prosperity, while continuing the progress we have already made to reduce the airport’s impact on the environment through the proposed development of a high-quality and sustainable replacement airport terminal.”

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council, said: “We can confirm that a planning application from Leeds Bradford Airport for a replacement terminal has been received and validated. This application will be duly considered through the planning application process in line with national planning policy. The application details for people to view are available via the public access portal https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/, with the application reference being 20/02559/FU.

“Please can any comments be sent via the public access portal or email, rather than on paper, as the council continues to adhere to the current government requirements for social distancing, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”