Campaigners to fight expansion

A group of campaigners has claimed it will take legal action to stop work on the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport if necessary.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th May 2020, 10:40 am

It follows news that detailed plans for the airport’s £150m revamp were submitted to Leeds City Council and published online today.

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.

But the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) claims the plans directly contradict Leeds City Council’s climate emergency policy, as the increase in flights and traffic would add to CO2 emissions and noise in the area.

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They also claim the public will not have enough time to understand the dozens of complex planning documents in the required consultation period.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “It’s ridiculous to expect local people to read, understand and respond to such a lot of technical detail in just 21 days. This decision is extremely important for the future of the region – that timescale is completely unfair and unrealistic.

“Expansion would bring more noise for local communities, increased air pollution, more traffic congestion and pump much more CO2 into the atmosphere – making the climate emergency worse. We need to rebuild a healthy economy in Leeds. We don’t need an unsustainable development like this.

“Every aviation industry expert has said that demand for air travel will remain low for several years. Naturally, people won’t want to risk being in an enclosed space – breathing other people’s air – until Coronavirus is long gone. There’s simply no need to expand the airport.”

GALBA claimed the group had “vowed to fight the airport’s plans, taking legal action if necessary”, adding similar campaigns against expansion of Bristol, Heathrow and Stansted airports had been successful.

The application claimed the current terminal is dated and inefficient, and that LBA risks losing more passengers to Manchester Airport unless the improvements are approved.

It stated: “There are clear environmental benefits in improving the existing infrastructure at the Airport.

“The current terminal is aged and has been the subject of a series of extensions since it was first built in the 1960s, which has resulted in a dated, and inefficient operation, which compromises its environmental integrity.

“Opportunities to improve the existing terminal’s environmental performance are limited.

“In contrast, replacing the terminal building with a new “state of the art” building, capable of meeting the needs of the modern day passenger and designed to an exemplary environmental standard, will create strong foundations for a highly sustainable future of the Airport. In summary, it is demonstrated in the application that there is a clear need to improve the Airport’s operations, both from an economic and environmental perspective.”

The application states that the airport is expecting seven million passengers per year by 2030 – but it wouldn’t be possible without the overhaul.

It added: “Whilst the existing terminal, as well as the recently consented extension to it, could accommodate some of this growth, it is operationally compromised and would not be able to deliver the quality of passenger environment presented by the new terminal, nor would it provide the environment to attract new airlines.

The planning application went on to state that the developments would add £400M a year to Leeds and the surrounding area, and ‘support’ nearly 9,000 jobs.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that daytime flight times, for landing and takeoff, would be extended to between 6am and 11.30pm.

A member of the public contacted the Yorkshire Evening Post wrote: “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 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.”

Another wrote: “I would like to object to the insufficient time that has been given to read through the 200 page technical document. 3 weeks is not long enough.

“Regardless of that I would like to object to the Leeds Bradford airport Expansion on the grounds of increase noise, air pollution, traffic, and greenhouse gas emissions. This development is in stark contradiction to the climate emergency that Leeds has announced. We need to be taking the climate crisis as serious as we are the corona crisis.”

As the ultimate fate of the plans will be decided by a council plans panel, Leeds City Council has to be careful not to prejudice any future decision.

However, a spokesperson for the authority sent the following: “We can confirm that a planning application for a replacement terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport has been received and validated. This application will be duly considered through the planning application process. The application details for people to view are available via the public access portal, 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.”