'This flies in the face of the climate emergency - residents and campaign groups say no to Leeds Bradford Airport plans

Environmental activists and local campaigners have joined together to oppose plans to increase capacity at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 11:45 am

Campaigners say the airport’s planned £150m revamp would increase the allowance of flights early in the morning and late at night, which could impact on the lives of those living nearby.

Environmentalists also claim the increased number of flights would contribute to climate change, adding that the projected increase to seven million annual passengers in the coming years could use up the council’s entire ‘carbon budget’.

Detailed plans for the airport’s £150m revamp were submitted to Leeds City Council and published online earlier this month.

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An artist impression for the new airport.

The plans include a new three-storey terminal building, close to the proposed Leeds Bradford Airport parkway rail station, and are expected to be up and running in 2023. The proposals also include increasing allowed daytime flight times from 7am-11pm; to 6am-11.30pm. The plans are set to be decided by a panel of planning chiefs in the coming months.

The Group for Action on LBA (GALBA) claims the plans don’t account for the forecasted increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the impact LBA’s flight times will have on local people.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “The proposed expansion flies in the face of the council’s climate emergency they announced last year.

“In our view it would be wrong for the council to accept this application. If passengers increased to 7 million, as predicted, Leeds would use up its entire carbon budget on just the airport.

“Flight times would also increase by an hour and a half each day. People living around the airport will have more disturbed sleep.”

Business and tourism experts claim the airport would help the region compete economically and could subsequently help create jobs in the area.

Mr Foren said: “There may be a marginal difference, but we can’t go on sacrificing our environment for economic growth.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post has also received letters from local residents following the submission of the planning application.

Roundhay resident Caleb Elliot said: “Regardless of that I would like to object to the Leeds Bradford Airport expansion on the grounds of increased noise, air pollution, traffic, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“[The expansion] will produce more noise pollution – LBA wants to extend flying times by 90 minutes, starting at 6am and finishing at 11.30pm – there’d be roughly one flight every six minutes.

“The climate damage will be amplified- LBA’s expansion would double its greenhouse gas emissions in the middle of the climate emergency.”

Otley resident Sarah Mumford said: “The consultation period must be extended if at all possible. There are 200 documents to read.

“As someone living under the flight path the increase in flight times for me is unacceptable. I have really enjoyed the peace since flights stopped due to corona virus and am now sleeping a full eight hours – which is just not possible when flights roar in to the air from 6.30am and hopefully not from 6am in future too.”

Environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion held a protest on Thursday outside Leeds Civic Hall in order to put pressure on planners to reject the blueprints.

Extinction Rebellion member and Leeds resident Christopher Hoare, said: “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.

“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.”

Local councillors have also got involved, with Horsforth ward councillors Jackie Shemilt, Jonathon Taylor and Dawn Collins submitting a letter to the council’s planning chiefs objecting to plans to increase flight times.

It stated: “We appreciate that the Airport has considered its significant impact on the environment and have developed their plans to address this within the grounds of which it has control. The proposed changes to daytime flying hours, however, make this application impossible to support.

“Presently in the summer, flights start before the ‘daytime’ hours (7am to 11pm) as the airport takes advantage of its ‘night-time’ allocation and flights begin around 6am in the summer.

“We, as Horsforth Ward Councillors, and residents we represent are concerned that if the daytime hours are extended and the night time hours remain, the effect will be that flying will actually start around 5am or potentially even earlier.”

In a statement released earlier this week, a Leeds Bradford Airport spokesperson 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.

“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.”