Leeds Bradford Airport: Campaigners welcome public inquiry over £150m new terminal plan

A public inquiry is set to be held into the decision to allow the rebuild of Leeds Bradford Airport, in what is seen as a major victory for campaigners against the site’s proposed expansion.
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LBA’s planning application for a new £150m terminal was approved by Leeds City Council on March 22, 2021. But campaigners, as well as both Labour and Tory MPs supported calls for a public inquiry.

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On April 6, the then-communities secretary Robert Jenrick postponed making a decision on this request, giving no timescale, leaving the future of the plans in limbo.

Leeds Bradford AirportLeeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport
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However, a document seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service appears to confirm that the current secretary of state Michael Gove has chosen to set up a public inquiry into the decision.

A communication from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities stated that matters which Mr Gove “particularly wishes to be informed about” include “The extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies for Protecting Green Belt Land.”

It also listed: “The extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies for meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change.

“The extent to which the proposed development is consistent with the development plan for the area.”

The move has been welcomed by both MPs and campaigners.

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Chris Foren, chairman of Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We’re very pleased with Mr Gove’s decision. It means that all of the consequences of LBA expansion will be properly considered by experienced planning experts.

“Airport expansion is obviously inconsistent with tackling the climate crisis. Scientists have repeatedly said that we must cut all our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 to prevent a climate catastrophe. If LBA expands, its emissions would double.

“Thanks to the thousands of people who donated to GALBA’s campaign, we will be able to use experts in planning law, climate science, health and economics to explain to the inquiry why LBA expansion cannot be allowed. We will present evidence to show that expansion would also damage the health of our communities, from the additional noise and air pollution.”

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A long-time opponent of the plans is Leeds Northwest MP Alex Sobel, whose constituency houses the airport.

He said: “I wrote to the Secretary of State to call this application in when the decision was first made and pleased an inspector will now look at the application.

“The inspector needs to look at The Committee on Climate Change recommendations on aviation and the need to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 for flights.”

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It is not yet known when the public inquiry will take place, but the communication from Government concludes: “The Secretary of State hereby directs the council not to grant planning

permission, without specific authorisation, for any development which is the same kind as that which is the subject of the application referred to above on any land which forms part of, or includes, the site to which the application relates until the Secretary of State has issued his decision on this application.”

While the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities did not issue a further statement, it confirmed the Housing Minister had decided to call in the application, and that a public inquiry will now be held, the arrangement for which “will be made shortly and details advertised locally”.

Leeds City Council and Leeds Bradford Airport have been contacted for further comments.

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