Stop Leeds-Bradford Airport expansion!

14 March 2020

Tell Leeds councillors why we must not allow LBA to make the climate crisis worse

We can stop AMP Capital’s planning application to expand Leeds Bradford Airport. To do that we need to let councillors across Leeds and on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) know the strength of opposition. The best way to do this is to go to a surgery and tell them in person. If you can’t do that, you can email them your views.

Here’s a link to find Leeds councillors details.

Here’s a link to find WYCA members - not all these people are Leeds councillors. So please adapt your email accordingly.

If you get a reply, please forward it to: GalbaUK@protonmail.com

GALBA is the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport. We are local people and need your support! Email us if you can help with leafleting or anything else.

Contacting Councillors

Tell them in your own words why you think LBA expansion should be stopped. Below are some key points about the climate impact of expansion. You might want to adapt some or all of them in what you say to your councillors. But don’t forget, there would also be more noise for people living under the flight path, more air pollution and more cars driving to the airport. Links to the sources of information below are given at the end.

Overview

LBA wants to nearly double its passenger numbers in just 10 years

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) wants to increase its passenger numbers from 4 million per year now to 7 million in 2030. (1) The airport is owned by AMP Capital, a large global investment company based in Sydney, Australia. To enable LBA’s expansion, AMP Capital will submit a planning application in ‘spring’ (date not yet known) seeking permission to extend nighttime flying by 1.5 hours and build a new passenger terminal. It’s important to understand that the purpose of these developments is to increase passenger numbers to 7 million by 2030.

This will have a huge impact on greenhouse gas emissions

The most important environmental impact of AMP Capital’s plan to expand LBA would be a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are the cause of the climate emergency. Quite simply, doubling passenger numbers would mean doubling emissions (2), at a time when we should be drastically reducing them. Sir David King, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, has warned: “Whatever we do over the next 10 years on climate change will determine the future of humanity for the next 10,000 years”. (3)

The tide is turning

The local authorities responsible for Stansted and Bristol airports have recently turned down expansion applications because of the damage they would cause to the climate. (4) This was followed by the highly significant Court of Appeal ruling on Heathrow’s third runway. (5) The Court ruled the government’s decision unlawful because: the Secretary of State failed to take into account the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement to limit global heating to well below 2C; and did not consider our commitment to achieve that by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. For the first time, a court has confirmed that the Paris Agreement target is legally binding.

The Court of Appeal Heathrow decision is important for LBA’s expansion plans

The Court of Appeal reaffirmed the National Planning Policy Framework guidancethat any planning development must be sustainable: “The objective of sustainable development can be summarised as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The impact of LBA expansion on the climate crisis and its effect on future generations cannot be ignored.

The Court of Appeal judgment means that developers and local authorities must put the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act at the heart of policymaking and planning decisions. It means that they can be held to account under the law for the climate impact of their developments. So Leeds City Council must fully consider the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from LBA’s planning application. If they permit a development that does not comply with our commitment to the Paris Agreement and to reach net zero by 2050, they will face a legal challenge.

Flying must be limited for a safe future

The UK Committee on Climate Change (a statutory body that advises national government) has warned: “Aviation is likely to be the largest emitting sector in the UK by 2050, even with strong progress on technology and limiting demand. Aviation also has climate warming effects beyond CO2 which it will be important to monitor and consider within future policies”. (6) Non-CO2 effects, including Nitrogen Oxides, water vapour and planes’ contrails, have a ‘radiative forcing’ effect, which makes global heating worse at high altitudes. This means that the total impact of flying on climate change is approximately double the purely CO2 effects.

Night time flying has especially bad non-CO2 effects

A study published in the journal Nature (7) found that night-time flying accounts for 60%-80% of all ‘contrail radiative forcing’ from planes, despite accounting for just 25% of flights. That means night time flying is even worse for the climate. LBA wants to extend night time flying hours. The Court of Appeal ruled that the non-CO2 climate impacts must be taken into account and the precautionary principle should be applied. That is, if we already know that damage will be caused by a development, but the precise degree of damage is not known, measures should be adopted to prevent environmental harm.

Damage to the climate continues after 2050

The Dept for Transport (DfT) estimates that aviation could constitute approximately 25% of all UK emissions by 2050. (8) The Court of Appeal ruled that the impact of Heathrow expansion on the climate crisis beyond 2050 was ‘obviously relevant’ because its effects will continue beyond 2050. There should be no 2050 time limit when considering LBA’s expansion proposal.

Here are several more reasons why AMP Capital’s planning application should be rejected

    1. The people of Leeds do not support expansion - the Citizens Jury. The Leeds Climate Change Citizens Jury was a group of 21 local residents - a representative sample of Leeds as a whole - who met in autumn 2019. Most of them knew little about the climate emergency at the start. After attending sessions with scientists and other experts, one of the Jury’s key recommendations was that airport expansion should be stopped. They called on Leeds to lead an ‘environmental revolution’. (9) Leeds City Council should listen to their advice and reject LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal. By the way, have you attended the training sessions for councillors about the climate emergency?
    2. Expansion is incompatible with the Leeds Climate Emergency Declaration. Leeds City Council issued a Climate Emergency Declaration in March 2019 and committed to a Carbon Reduction Roadmap which aims to guide our city to zero carbon by 2050, hopefully even by 2030. (10) Leeds Climate Commission is a partnership of Leeds City Council, University of Leeds, local businesses, the local public sector and the third sector. (11) It has forecast that airport expansion would mean emissions from the airport become higher than emissions from the whole of the rest of Leeds by 2026, as emissions are cut in other sectors. Leeds City Council has the power and responsibility to prevent LBA expansion. Even if only one in five passengers are Leeds residents, their flights alone would use up 35% of the city’s entire carbon budget by 2050. (12) The incompatibility of allowing airport expansion and reaching zero carbon is obvious. LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal must be rejected.
    3. LCC Core Strategy guidance is out of date. Leeds City Council’s Core Strategy is based on very out of date evidence in respect of the climate emergency. Sections 5.5.31-5.5.35 make reference to LCC climate change policy, national legislation and climate science. (13) All three have progressed significantly since this section of the Core Strategy was written. Leeds City Council has declared a Climate Emergency. Both LCC and national government now aim to achieve 100% carbon reduction by 2050. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Committee on Climate Change are groups of world leading climate science experts. Their respective advice to the United Nations and to the UK government has evolved considerably and it has changed specifically in relation to aviation. (14) It would be completely wrong to make a decision on AMP Capital’s planning application using Core Strategy guidance that is so seriously and demonstrably out of date.
    4. New aviation technologies will not be available soon enough. Leeds City Council has publicly accepted that expanding aviation is “fundamentally incompatible” with reaching zero carbon until flying can be made zero carbon. (15) Leeds Climate Commission has warned that the new technologies needed to make flying zero carbon are not going to be available in the short to medium term. (16) The UK Committee on Climate Change (a statutory body that advises national government) has concluded that the development of new aviation technologies and zero carbon fuels is “highly speculative and should not be relied upon.” (17) The Leeds Climate Commission, like all other climate experts, has also warned that drastic cuts in emissions are needed within the next decade. (18) It would be deeply irresponsible to allow LBA to expand at this time, when aviation is clearly not carbon neutral - and will not become so for a long time. LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal must be rejected.
    5. Terminal building emissions are ‘grains of sand’. AMP Capital has made much of the potential increased energy efficiency of the proposed new terminal building. If there were no proposals to increase LBA’s passenger numbers from 4 million now to 7 million in 2030 (19) then any reduced emissions from a new terminal building would be welcome. However the proposed expansion of passenger numbers would cause emissions from the extra flights to double (20) meaning the reduced emissions from the terminal building are insignificant. As the Chair of Leeds Climate Commission has observed, LBA’s terminal emissions are 'grains of sand' compared to the impact of increased flights. (21) LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal must be rejected.
    6. Doubling passengers means doubling greenhouse gas emissions. Leeds Climate Commission has forecast that the proposed expansion of LBA would mean a doubling of emissions from flights using the airport by 2050. If LBA expands, its flights will produce approx 2000 ktCO2e per year; if it doesn’t expand, that figure would be approx 1000 ktCO2e per year. (22) It would be completely wrong to allow a doubling of greenhouse gas emissions when we face an existential threat to humanity from the climate emergency. LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal must be rejected.
    7. Passenger growth must be limited to “at most 25%”. In September 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change (a statutory body that advises national government) stated that we must limit aviation passenger growth to a maximum of 25% from 2018 to 2050. It said: “In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term. Our scenario reflects a 25% growth in demand by 2050 compared to 2018 levels.” (23) LBA wants to increase from 4 million passengers per year now to 7 million in 2030. (24) That’s an increase of 72% in just 10 years. This far exceeds the advice of the UK Committee on Climate Change.

      Remember: all other regional airports also want to expand in excess of 25%. (25) So this would not simply mean Leeds getting a ‘bigger slice of pie’ while the UK as a whole remains within the 25% expansion limit. It would mean a major overall increase in aviation emissions, with Leeds contributing a disproportionately high amount. LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal must be rejected.

    8. Aviation White Paper due soon and Airport National Planning Statement ruled unlawful. The government postponed its Aviation White Paper in September 2019 to allow time for the latest advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change (a statutory body that advises national government) to be addressed. That advice was to limit passenger growth to at most 25% between 2018 and 2050. LBA wants to increase by 72%. (26) In the Queen’s Speech, the government announced its intention to publish an aviation White Paper in 2020. (27) The previous Secretary of State said the White Paper will address the advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change. (28)

      The recent Court of Appeal decision on Heathrow ruled that the government’s Airport National Planning Statement is unlawful because it did not take account of the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. National UK legislation commits the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050. On 2 March 2020, aviation minister Kelly Tolhurst was asked in the House of Commons: “Can I ask her to be very clear that any expansion of any regional airport… must meet stringent environmental criteria on climate change, pollution and the rest? Will she make that point firmly at the Dispatch Box?” She replied: “Yes”. (29) It would be wrong to decide on LBA’s planning application before the Aviation White Paper is published and the before the implications of the Court of Appeal decision on Heathrow are translated into a new aviation policy statement.

    9. Passenger displacement and net emissions - evidence? It is sometimes said that stopping LBA from expanding would result in people driving to Manchester airport and cause an increase in emissions from vehicles. However people would only stop driving to Manchester if LBA offered flights to all the same destinations as Manchester. If that happened, there would be an even larger increase in emissions from flights using LBA and from the extra cars driving to LBA. It seems more likely this would result in a net overall increase in emissions. Have you seen any reliable research that assesses the question of ‘passenger displacement’ and net emissions? The climate emergency is real. It’s effects are being felt all over the world - including in more frequent and severe floods here in Yorkshire. This is not the time for a ‘them v us’ attitude - we all need to act. It is our duty to take responsibility for preventing the worst extremes of climate breakdown wherever and however we can #LeedsbyExample. LBA’s planning application for extended night flights and a new terminal must be rejected.
    10. We can’t ‘have our cake and eat it’ by offsetting LBA’s increased emissions. We have to reduce emissions and also use offsetting measures to reach net zero. It’s a good thing to plant trees because they can absorb carbon from the atmosphere. But it’s not an alternative to reducing emissions in the first place. And there’s a high risk that offsetting projects would not actually offset emissions. A study for the European Commission found that 85% of the offset projects used by the EU under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism failed to reduce emissions. (30) So, there’s a high risk that carbon offsetting doesn’t work in practice. But that doesn’t mean it never works or shouldn’t be tried. It just means that cutting emissions and offsetting are not ‘either/or’ but ‘both/and’.
    11. Leeds City Council has the power and responsibility to decide. It is sometimes claimed that local authorities have no influence or control over airport expansion and it’s all the responsibility of national government. However the local authorities responsible for planning applications to expand Stansted and Bristol airports have recently decided to reject those applications because of their impact on the climate crisis. (31) Leeds City Council can and should do the same in respect of AMP Capital’s application to extend night flying hours and build a new terminal at LBA. It is not fair or reasonable to expect every other sector of the local economy to make deep reductions in emissions but to allow LBA to double its emissions.

      The Court of Appeal’s judgment on Heathrow (32) found that the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement to limit global heating must be taken into account. Leeds City Council cannot ignore the fact that AMP Capital’s proposal to expand LBA would result in doubling its greenhouse gas emissions. The Council has the power and the responsibility to turn the words of its Climate Emergency Declaration into meaningful actions. Leeds City Council can show the world that Leeds leads on tackling the climate emergency. #LeedsbyExample

    12. What does climate breakdown really mean? If you’re not sure what life would be like in 2050 if we don’t prevent climate breakdown, please read this extract from a book by Christina Figueres, the United Nations lead officer at the Paris Agreement climate negotiations. Whatever the alleged short term economic benefits of LBA expansion, this is what life will be like if we fail to reach zero carbon by 2050.

      After describing the disastrous effects on the majority of the world, she explains: “Those living within stable countries may be physically safe, yes, but the psychological toll is mounting. With each new tipping point passed, they feel hope slipping away. There is no chance of stopping the runaway warming of our planet and no doubt we are slowly but surely heading towards some kind of collapse. And not just because it’s too hot.

      Melting permafrost is also releasing ancient microbes that today’s humans have never been exposed to and, as a result, have no resistance to. Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks are rampant as these species flourish in the changed climate, spreading to previously safe parts of the planet, increasingly overwhelming us. Worse still, the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance has only intensified as the population has grown denser in habitable areas and temperatures continue to rise.” (33)

    13. What could life be like in 2050? By way of contrast, Christina Figueres describes how things could be in 2050 - if we make the right decisions now.

      “When the alarm bells rang in 2020, thanks in large part to the youth movement, we realised that we suffered from too much consumption, competition, and greedy self-interest. Our commitment to these values and our drive for profit and status had led us to steamroll our environment. As a species, we were out of control and the result was the near-collapse of our world.

      We emerged from the climate crisis as more mature members of the community of life, capable of not only restoring ecosystems but also of unfolding our dormant potentials of human strength and discernment. Humanity was only ever as doomed as it believed itself to be. Vanquishing that belief was our true legacy.” (34)

Sources of information

    1. LBA passenger increase to 2030, see table in this article: https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-planned-growth-of-uk-airports-not-consistent-with-net-zero-climate-goal

    2. Leeds Climate Commission aviation position paper, December 2019, Figure 2 on p.8: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Climate%20Commission%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Aviation%20FINAL.pdf and University of Leeds

    3. Sir David King warning: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48069663

    4. Stansted airport expansion rejected: https://www.residents4u.org/2020/01/24/stansted-airport-expansion-refused/ Bristol airport expansion rejected: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-51447705

    5. Court of Appeal Heathrow decision: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51658693

    6. Committee on Climate Change, p1 of advice letter to government, September 2019: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Grant-Shapps-IAS.pdf

    7. Nature report on effects of night flying: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-challenge-tackling-aviations-non-co2-emissions]

    8. DfT forecast aviation produces 25% of all emissions by 2050 - Aviation 2050 (December 2018), para 1.24: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/769695/aviation-2050-web.pdf

    9. Leeds Climate Change Citizens Jury, recommendation 9: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/leeds-citizens-jury-recommendations-published

    10. Leeds Carbon Reduction Roadmap: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Carbon%20Roadmap%20v4.pdf

    11. Leeds Climate Commission: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/about-leeds-climate-commission

    12. Leeds Climate Commission aviation position paper, December 2019, Figure 2 on p.8: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Climate%20Commission%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Aviation%20FINAL.pdf and University of Leeds research: https://theconversation.com/we-cant-expand-airports-after-declaring-a-climate-emergency-lets-shift-to-low-carbon-transport-instead-120740

    13. LCC Core Strategy - sections 5.5.31-5.5.35: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/Local%20Plans/Adopted%20Core%20Strategy/Consolidated%20Core%20Strategy%20with%20CSSR%20Policies%20Sept%202019.pdf

    14. Committee on Climate Change, advice letter to government, September 2019: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Grant-Shapps-IAS.pdf

    15. Climate Emergency Update Report to LCC Exec Board, January 2020: https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s198403/Climate%20Emergency%20Cover%20Report%20191219.pdf

    16. Leeds Climate Commission airport position paper, December 2019, p2: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Climate%20Commission%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Aviation%20FINAL.pdf

    17. Committee on Climate Change, p2 of advice letter to government, September 2019: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Grant-Shapps-IAS.pdf

    18. Leeds Climate Commission aviation position paper, December 2019, p2: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Climate%20Commission%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Aviation%20FINAL.pdf

    19. LBA passenger increase to 2030, see table in this article: https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-planned-growth-of-uk-airports-not-consistent-with-net-zero-climate-goal

    20. Leeds Climate Commission aviation position paper, December 2019, Figure 1, p7: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Climate%20Commission%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Aviation%20FINAL.pdf

    21. Yorkshire Evening Post: https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/traffic-and-travel/leeds-bradford-airport-terminal-emissions-are-grains-sand-compared-flight-impact-says-climate-commission-chairman-1374255

    22. Leeds Climate Commission aviation position paper, December 2019, Figure 1 p7: https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leeds%20Climate%20Commission%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Aviation%20FINAL.pdf

    23. Committee on Climate Change, p11 of advice letter to government, September 2019: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Grant-Shapps-IAS.pdf

    24. LBA passenger increase to 2030, see table in this article: https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-planned-growth-of-uk-airports-not-consistent-with-net-zero-climate-goal

    25. All regional UK airports plan to expand: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/18/revealed-every-uk-airport-has-plans-to-expand/

    26. Committee on Climate Change, p11 of advice letter to government, September 2019: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Grant-Shapps-IAS.pdf

    27. Queen’s Speech, October 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/839370/Queen_s_Speech_Lobby_Pack_2019_.pdf

    28. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Mr Greg Clark, stated that ‘We have followed the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and our plans for net zero cover the whole economy, including international aviation and shipping. We await the committee’s advice on how to legislate.’ Hansard HC (12 June 2019) Volume 661 Column 682 Net Zero Emissions Target.

    29. Transport Minister answer to question about Heathrow judgment: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-03-02/debates/6A9FD8BE-293E-4DDF-AE9D-BC84EE909724/AirportExpansion

    30. EU research into offsetting: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/clima/files/ets/docs/clean_dev_mechanism_en.pdf

    31. Stansted airport expansion rejected: https://www.residents4u.org/2020/01/24/stansted-airport-expansion-refused/ Bristol airport expansion rejected: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-51447705

    32. Court of Appeal Heathrow decision: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51658693

    33. Extract from The Future We Choose by Christina Figueres in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/15/worst-case-scenario-2050-climate-crisis-future-we-choose-christiana-figueres-tom-rivett-carnac?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

    34. Extract from The Future We Choose by Christina Figueres in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/15/best-case-scenario-2050-climate-crisis-future-we-choose-christiana-figueres-tom-rivett-carnac?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other