Leeds Bradford Airport expansion could COST region £3.1bn over 26 years, claims think tank

The think-tank, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), has worked out that the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport could cost the region up to £3.1billion in lost economic activity by 2050. The plans would enable the airport to handle 7 million annual passengers, up from around 4 million in 2019. Most passengers will be on low cost leisure flights.  The claims by the airport ignore the huge loss to the UK because people who fly abroad on holiday do not spend that money in the UK.  The airport also claims (as all airports always do) that the expansion will create many new jobs. In fact, the aviation sector becomes increasingly automated, with fewer and fewer jobs per 1,000 passengers – and this has accelerated through the Covid-19 crisis.  NEF says: “The predicted business benefits are overstated, because businesses are making less and less use of air travel, especially in the fallout from coronavirus.”  Also that: “With the leisure and hospitality industries on their knees, this expansion would damage the local recovery from the Covid pandemic.”



Leeds Bradford Airport expansion could COST region £3.1bn over 26 years, claims think tank

A think-tank has claimed the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport could cost the region up to £3.1bn in lost economic activity by 2050.

By Richard Beecham (Yorkshire Evening Post)

Monday, 16th November 2020,

Analysis published by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) claims that the expansion plans do not include the cost to Leeds in lost money from tourists flying out of the region, adding the proposed expansion is ‘not economically wise’.

The report went on to claim the airport’s expansion plan overestimates the amount of new jobs the scheme would create, and does not address the likely reduction in jobs in the aviation sector or its impact on the climate crisis.

But Leeds Bradford Airport has said the findings of the report are “untrue”, and that ample evidence had been submitted to Leeds City Council showing tourism in the region would not be affected, and that jobs would indeed be supported by the redevelopment.

Alex Chapman, consultant at the NEF, said: “The climate change risks of the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport are obvious. What is discussed less is that the economic benefits the scheme claims to create are based on inconsistent and logically flawed economics.

“The proposed jobs will not materialise because the aviation industry is automating, creating less and less jobs, and this trend has just accelerated through the Covid-19 crisis.

“The predicted business benefits are overstated, because businesses are making less and less use of air travel, especially in the fallout from coronavirus.

“Finally, the airport ignores the negative impacts of incentivising Leeds City Region residents to take cheap flights out of the country, instead of spending their money in the local economy. With the leisure and hospitality industries on their knees, this expansion would damage the local recovery from the Covid pandemic.”

The report added the airport’s economic case for expansion as “selective and logically inconsistent”, particularly regarding whether costs – like noise pollution – or benefits – like new jobs – will be newly created or relocated from elsewhere in the country.

Leeds Bradford Airport’s proposed £150m expansion is would involve building a new so-called “eco-friendly” terminal to accommodate more flights. Leeds City Council decision-makers are expected to rule on the plans over the coming months.

LBA said it had presented a detailed socio-economic report to Leeds City Council with the new terminal’s planning application, which concludes that over 12,000 jobs will be supported by the development, and that this report was compiled by “leading industry experts and has been peer reviewed by Leeds City Council.”

It added that the report made reference to jobs which “cannot be automated”, such as highly-skilled positions in ground operations, air traffic control, engineering and maintenance.

The spokesperson added: “The findings of this report are untrue. LBA is already an economic hub and the Council’s Local Plan supports the continued development of the Airport. It is, and will continue be, a cornerstone of the regional economy, providing jobs and livelihoods for thousands of people and vital connectivity for Yorkshire’s economy.

“In these difficult times of COVID-19, Yorkshire needs its economy to recover quickly and to thrive. LBA’s plans to modernise can be a key part of that recovery by generating inward investment and attracting international tourists and students. We look forward to helping businesses in our region to meet this demand in the coming decades.

“To say that jobs in aviation are unsustainable is misleading. On the contrary, the sector has jointly committed to becoming net zero by 2050 and there are advances in technologies and fuels on the horizon. We know we have work to do to get there, but the long-term future for sustainable aviation, and the jobs that it will create and sustain, is positive. Leeds as a city will only have the ability to innovative if it enjoys strong connectivity with the rest of the world.”

The New Economics Foundation is an environmentally-focussed economics think tank. It is a registered charity and is funded by organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Friends of the Earth. You can find a full list of its financial backers here ( https://neweconomics.org/about/who-funds-us ).



See earlier:

Extinction Rebellion to protest in Leeds against Leeds Bradford Airport expansion plans

Socially-distant protesters plan to gather in Millennium Square on August 29 in support of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA). GALBA will be cycling a route around Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield to highlight areas which may be affected by aircraft noise pollution if the airport’s expansion plans are approved.  Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) submitted plans to build a new “state of the art” £150million terminal in early 2020. It would  be closer to a proposed parkway rail station, announced by Leeds City Council last year.  The terminal would accommodate seven million passengers per year by 2030. Extinction Rebellion (XR) has held several protests this year against the expansion plans, both outside Leeds City Council’s Civic Hall headquarters and outside a public consultation meeting held at the Mercure Parkway Hotel.  XR says the proposed expansion, yet to be approved by the council, will increase carbon emissions – fuelling climate change. One activist said:  “I will be able to look my daughter in her eyes and tell her I tried to put an end to this madness, that we knew there was a better way to live and I fought for it with everything I had.”

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Young climate activists urge council to reject Leeds Bradford Airport development – “Don’t let us down”

‘DON’T let us down’ was the plea being made by young climate activists who are calling on Leeds City Council to reject plans for a new airport terminal.  Leeds Bradford Airport is seeking permission to create a new, £150 million building to replace its current terminal which dates back to the 1960s. Environmental campaigners say the terminal flies in the face of attempts to tackle global heating. Leeds YouthStrike4Climate (Leeds YS4C) have sent an open letter to the city council’s leaders which reminds them that they declared a Climate Emergency in March, 2019.  The expansion plans would make it ‘impossible’ for Leeds City Council to keep its promise to make the city carbon neutral by 2030. There will also be a lot more plane noise pollution. Leeds climate striker Annwen Thurlow said: “Our house is already on fire – we cannot let this expansion add more fuel. The council has a responsibility to protect our health and wellbeing, of people and planet.  Young people in Leeds and across the world are relying on them. “So we say to them – please don’t let us down.”

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Leeds Bradford Airport: Scientists object to expansion plans which will increase CO2 emissions

A group of five climate scientists have objected to Leeds Bradford airport’s expansion plans as they make it “impossible” for Leeds to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target.  The airport wants to build a new terminal, but this would mean more flights and more passengers, and so more carbon emissions. The scientists said the expanded airport’s greenhouse gas emissions would be higher than the emissions allowed for the whole of Leeds in 10 years’ time. The airport could cause the emission of 1,227 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, compared to 1,020 kilotonnes allowed for the whole of Leeds in 2030. One of those objecting is Prof Julia Steinberger, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which advises the United Nations. The IPCC has warned that restricting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. The scientists say expansion would just represent “business as usual” and lock in higher CO2 emissions.  “If similar developments were replicated around the world, it would lock us into catastrophic climate change, which highlights that the proposed development is not only highly harmful but also unfair.”

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Natural England says Leeds Bradford Airport expansion should not be approved – necessary details have not been provided

The government’s environment adviser, Natural England, says Leeds City Council should not approve controversial plans for the Leeds Bradford Airport expansion, unless further evidence on the potential impacts is provided.  Natural England states the airport’s planning application lacks detail and “there is currently not enough information to rule out the likelihood of significant effects” on the environment. It has asked the airport to provide additional information, so the council can asses the impact the new £150 million terminal would have on air quality, local wildlife and protected landscapes.  Natural England therefore advises Leeds City Council that it should not grant planning permission at this stage. The airport wants to increase passengers numbers from 4 million to 7 million a year. Climate scientists, environmentalists, The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) and four Leeds MPs are also calling on the council to reject the new plans. GALBA, said the airport has not bothered to assess the damage that their expansion plans would do to wildlife and nature.

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