Alex Sobel MP tells government to stop Leeds Bradford Airport’s new £150m terminal
The MP for Leeds North West, Alex Sobel, has told the government it needs to dramatically intervene to stop the building of a new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport. The airport is in his constituency. He has asked the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, to call in the decision made by Leeds City Councillors to approve plans for a new terminal. The expansion plans are intended to increase the number of flights and passengers, and therefore the amount of noise and carbon emissions. Mr Sobel has been a long-time critic of the airport’s plans. He has pointed out that the expansion plans are not in keeping with the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, to limit aviation expansion, in order to reach UK carbon targets. He said: “I do not believe that a local plans panel of 14 councillors is in any way a competent body to be making a decision of this significance. Applications which significantly affect the carbon budget must be made nationally. We need a national aviation plan and significant measures to reduce net emissions from UK flights. I look forward to seeing these in the Government’s response to the Committee on Climate Change’s Sixth Carbon Budget Report.”
Richard Burgon MP has also written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Robert Jenrick) to request the Leeds Bradford Airport expansion planning application is “called in” with a full and independent inquiry. He says “These issues are vital as we face the threat of climate catastrophe.” See tweet at https://twitter.com/RichardBurgon/status/1370480713036926980
MP tells government to stop Leeds Bradford Airport’s new £150m terminal
It comes after airport chiefs hit a fresh stumbling block in plans to increase flying times
By Richard Beecham and Kristian Johnson (Leeds Live)
12 MAR 2021
A Leeds MP has told the government it needs to dramatically intervene to stop the building of a new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport.
Alex Sobel, who represents Leeds North West where the airport is based, has asked Whitehall to call in the decision made by Leeds City Councillors this month to approve the £150 million new facility due to huge concerns about the effect of extra flights on the environment.
Mr Sobel, who has been a long-time critic of the airport’s plans, believes a local council plans panel should never have been allowed to make such a decision.
He said: “I have requested that the split decision of the cross party plans panel to grant the new terminal and extend flight times at Leeds Bradford Airport be called in by the Government.
“This application was predicated on an expansion of flights equating to three million more passengers annually which is not in keeping with the sixth and subsequent UK carbon budgets which calls for no net increase in aviation emissions, nor is it in keeping with the recent Heathrow judgement in the Supreme Court.
“I do not believe that a local plans panel of 14 councillors is in any way a competent body to be making a decision of this significance. Applications which significantly affect the carbon budget must be made nationally.
“We need a national aviation plan and significant measures to reduce net emissions from UK flights. I look forward to seeing these in the Government’s response to the Committee on Climate Change’s Sixth Carbon Budget Report.”
Council members approved plans for the new terminal in principle last month and met earlier this week to discuss further issues faced by developers wanting to rebuild the facility.
A report by council officers claimed the airport could not demolish the whole of its current terminal once the new one was built, as it contains much of the site’s crucial infrastructure. The airport also claimed it had to introduce planned extended flying times before the new terminal was completed for commercial reasons.
While councillors were willing to allow the old building to remain standing for the time being, they vowed to stand firm on only extending the flying times once the new terminal was finished – with one councillor comparing LBA’s request to a supermarket opening to customers before it was built.
The plans have been agreed though, with some councillors expressing concerns that a decision to block the new terminal would be overturned on appeal and the local authority would have to pay extra costs.
Leader of the Leeds Green Party group Cllr David Blackburn said: “It seems to me that officers were sent off with a list to talk to the airport, and they have come back with what the airport want to do rather than what the panel asked them to.
“There needs to be recognition from the airport that they need to do their bit when it comes to climate change.”
Cllr Paul Wadsworth (Con) said: “We wouldn’t allow a supermarket to start serving customers when the shop was still only half-built.
“The airport do have a reputation for starting things – they have some footings out the front which they started on years ago, and another on the side of the building application we approved.”
The airport had wanted permission to increase flight times before the completion of the new terminal, which would extend the daytime flight period, as well as a likely increase from five to 17 flights between 6am and 7am.
But at a planning meeting last month, members were concerned at the possibility of the airport taking advantage of the new flying times and not building the new terminal.
Since then, LBA offered a compromise to the council, agreeing to only introduce the new flight times one year into the two-year building project.
The proposed terminal
Cllr Neil Walshaw (Lab) is the chair of Leeds City Council’s Climate Emergency Committee. He said: “The paucity of national policy should not preclude us from acting locally.
“The aviation carbon this generates is the significant issue of this, and we have a variety of opinions in how to address this. If members are worried about the impact of our decision-making – the cost to Leeds as a whole of a four or eight degree warming world would far outstrip the costs to the council from the Government’s inspectorate of planning.”
Cllr Peter Gruen (Lab) warned that, should members turn down the application having already approved it in principle, the airport could appeal to the government against the decision and would likely win.
He added: “I have no idea whether the secretary of state will be more or less sympathetic – but I do know that when it comes out of our hands, none of the conditions we are applying would necessarily stay.”
Cllr Dan Cohen (Con) echoed his concerns, adding: “In a bid to pacify a deeper commitment to opposing this application, some colleagues are misinterpreting intentionally what our jobs are as plans panel members.
“If we simply keep deferring and deferring and coming back, that is, with respect, an attempt to avoid doing our job.
“If we let this go to appeal, we will lose the appeal, we will be hit with substantial costs, we will radically undermine the integrity of this panel, and we will lose all the conditions we believe are so important.”
Cllr Cohen proposed supporting the recommendation to defer and delegate to council officers, subject to the condition that no extra flight times are allowed until the terminal is finished, and a condition to add a hackney carriage taxi rank.
Members of the panel voted in favour of Cllr Cohen’s motion, meaning final details will be worked out between LBA and Leeds City Council planning officers before work can start on the site.
In a statement today, Vincent Hodder, CEO of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We are delighted that our plans for a replacement terminal have been awarded planning consent by Leeds City Council, enabling us to become an outstanding net zero airport, delivering a much-improved passenger experience and creating thousands of jobs, helping to support our region’s recovery.
“We would like to thank those that have supported our application through the statutory process and we will be consulting with stakeholders over the coming months on the appropriate next steps.”
GALBA’s Response to Leeds City Council Plans Panel’s Confirmation of LBA Expansion Approval
11.3.2021 (Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport)
Despite councillor after councillor expressing unhappiness at the conditions offered by LBA, it looks like threat of an appeal by the airport was the reason why Leeds City Council’s Plans Panel confirmed its approval of Leeds Bradford Airport’s planning application. We are disappointed but not surprised by that decision. GALBA remains committed to protecting the health of our climate and our communities by stopping airport expansion. We believe the decision should be considered at a public inquiry where the climate, noise, health and economic impacts can be properly and thoroughly investigated. Alternatively, we will challenge the Council’s decision in the courts. We have the resources and the determination to continue our campaign for as long as necessary.
Leeds Bradford Airport terminal recommended for final approval – but old building could remain standing
A new document has shown Leeds Bradford Airport may not be able to demolish its old terminal building if/when a replacement is built, as it contains much of the site’s crucial infrastructure. As part of a Leeds City Council’s recent in-principle acceptance of the rebuild last month, members wanted the ageing terminal building to be demolished as soon as possible once the new one was built. But a document set to go before the panel next week claims the airport cannot do this, as it currently contains the airport’s air traffic control tower, fire station, IT, communications, security, safety and mechanical infrastructure These are needed for the airport to maintain its aerodrome licence, but the airport says it has committed to creating a “masterplan” to get rid of the site in the longer term. The report, set to go before the Council’s plans panel on 11th March. It said: “The existing terminal will not be used by passengers which is restricted in the proposed (planning) agreement….[it] houses some of the Airports critical operations…” The airport’s management offices are also included in the terminal building, as well as Jet2’s staff offices.
Open letter from 246 University of Leeds academics, to Robert Jenrick, asking him to “call in” the Leeds Bradford decision
246 University of Leeds staff (including 46 professors and associate professors) ,and postgraduate researchers have signed an open letter, asking Robert Jenrick (Sec of State) to ‘call in’ the decision on Leeds Bradford Airport. The government should take responsibility for the decision, which is of national importance because of the increased carbon emissions and their impact on UK carbon commitments. The academics say expanding LBA’s passenger numbers by 75% exceeds the maximum rate of growth that the Climate Change Committee considers compatible with the UK’s legally adopted net-zero target. It would make it much more difficult – and more costly – for the UK to achieve its climate targets and would require reductions in passenger numbers elsewhere in the UK. “In the year that the UK is hosting the COP26 conference, it is vital that we show leadership on climate change and take the necessary actions to secure a safe, zero-carbon future. We therefore urge you [Robert Jenrick] to call in this application so that the issues highlighted are considered in light of national and international climate targets and associated guidance.” The alleged economic benefits of the expansion, or jobs created, would be unlikely to materialise.
Government should call in Leeds Bradford airport expansion plans, due to climate impact
The government is under growing pressure to halt a proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford airport, which critics say would wreck efforts to tackle the climate and ecological crisis and undermine the government’s credibility ahead of the COP in Glasgow in November. The expansion would allow an increase in passengers from 4 to 7 million per year by 2030. It was recently given conditional approval by Leeds city council despite widespread opposition from local MPs, councils, residents and environmental groups. Lawyers have written to Sec of State Robert Jenrick asking for the decision to be “called in.” A Leeds University climate scientist, Jefim Vogel, says the airport expansion would only benefit “relatively few people”, and would contribute towards a global climate catastrophe. The Leeds Council decision illustrated how many councillors don’t fully comprehend the severity and urgency of the global climate situation. Jefim told councillors: “If we allow the climate crisis to escalate, it will make the COVID crisis look like a bed of roses. The climate crisis stands above short-term economics. Millions of lives and livelihoods and the safety of human civilisation are at risk.” The emissions from flights using the expanded airport would dwarf those of the rest of the city.