Airport plans should be approved
A final decision is set to be made today (Thursday, February 11) on the future of the airport, following more than a year of protests and controversy around the proposals for a new £150m terminal and runway at the site in Yeadon.
Environmental campaigners and climate academics had warned flights in and out of Leeds needed to dramatically reduce in order to help humanity have a fighting chance of averting climate catastrophe in the coming years.
Council planning officers have now set out their recommendation in a report to the authority’s City Plans Panel that suggests they approve the blueprints, albeit with 50 conditions on the developers.
The report states: “The local planning authority has had regard to the high number of comments received, both in favour and against the proposals, together with the delivery of policy and technical requirements.
“Central to the proposed scheme is the development of a well-designed, more efficient, carbon neutral replacement terminal building. This will not only be more operationally efficient but will provide a gateway to Leeds and beyond and will greatly improve the passenger and employee experience and provide higher quality welcome for travellers to the city and the region.
“Linked to this, the proposed development will bring associated economic benefits.
“The application also entails the reduction of the night time flying regime period and an increase in the number of flights as the airport looks to expand to (seven million passengers per annum) by 2030.
“The focus of this is for LBA to be on a competitive footing with other regional airports, whilst at the same time, seeking to minimise and to mitigate any adverse environmental impacts.”
“Extensive measures to improve public transport and accessibility to the airport are proposed which would reduce the proportion of travel by car, despite an overall increase in passenger numbers.”
During a meeting in September 2019, Leeds University PHD researcher Jefim Vogel gave a presentation to the council’s Climate Emergency Committee, where he claimed air passenger numbers at the airport needed to reduce by three quarters before 2030 to fend off the threat to civilisation posed by climate change.
Since then, a number of protests have taken place, with campaigners famously staging a “die-in”.
The council has also received nearly 2,000 objections to the plans, although it has also received over 1,200 in support.
The report from Leeds City Council officers said the climate impact of the new terminal itself would be lower than the current airport building, claiming the issue of carbon emissions from flights needed to be dealt with at a national level.
It added: “Any suppression of planned growth at LBA here (is) likely to lead to displacement as other airports simply taking up the demand along with the flight emissions (and without Leeds securing the economic benefits).
“Further, the carbon budget for LBA flights would still not be exceeded by the development. It has been demonstrated (without the flights), that the scheme will reduce the amount of carbon production that the existing situation which will help for Leeds to achieve its zero carbon by 2030.”
It added that “noise-mitigation” measures would include “the provision of appropriate additional insulation of properties at no cost to residents/householders.”
While the plans meet the criteria for “inappropriate development” on the green belt, council officers argue this meets the test for special circumstances.
They added: “Officers have concluded that the significant economic benefits, and reduction in carbon emissions due to the new terminal and ground operations, as well as the benefits arising from improved passenger experience do clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and the other harms that have been identified within the report.”