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

Extinction Rebellion will be staging a further protest this weekend against Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) expansion plans.

Socially-distant protesters will gather in Millennium Square on Saturday, August 29 from 3pm to 5pm 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 sound pollution if the expansion plans are approved.

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LBA submitted plans to build a new £150million terminal in early 2020.

Christopher Hore, Alstair Chestermn and Drew Long of Extinction Rebellion hold socially distanced protest against expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport outside Leeds Civic Hall. 21 May 2020. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

In the plans, they claimed that the ‘state of the art’ terminal would include three main floors with improved vehicle access.

It would also 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 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.

Extinction Rebellion Protest Neville Street Bridge. 16 July 2019. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The group claims the proposed expansion, yet to be approved by council planning chiefs, will add to climate change due to the increased number of flights likely to take place.

An Extinction Rebellion Families Leeds spokeswoman said: "It breaks my heart to see that businesses, corporations and individuals are still putting profit before the health and wellbeing of humans and all life on this planet.

"When we are facing the worst crises ever imagined - heat waves, floods, droughts and famine; when the world has been struck to stillness by a novel pandemic; when there are hundreds of thousands of people already suffering and dying due to man-made climate related problems; when will it finally be enough?

"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.

"I hope that more people realise that if we join together for the same cause we will have the power to change before we destroy ourselves completely."

In July, young climate change activists sent an open letter pleading with Leeds City Council not to approve the plans.

In an open letter sent to senior council decision-makers, Leeds YouthStrike4Climate claimed the plans, which could see the number of flights at the facility increase, could disproportionately affect both disadvantaged areas and schoolchildren.

A statement from the climate strikers said: “There are 36 schools under the flight-path and more noise from increased flights would risk further disrupting pupils’ education following the Covid-19 crisis.”

Campaigner Annwen Thurlow added: “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.”

Leeds YS4C activist Robbie Strathdee said: “The flight-path cuts right across the city, so expansion would do damage to some of Leeds’ most disadvantaged communities.

“The climate crisis is intrinsically an issue of racial and social justice, with disadvantaged communities already suffering its impacts most severely in Leeds and beyond. We mustn’t heap injustice upon injustice through expansion.

“A green recovery for Leeds could look like whatever we want and need as a city – but it cannot look like an expanded airport.”

A response to the statement on behalf of LBA stated while it understood the concerns expressed by Leeds YouthStrike4Climate, the development would in fact create an ‘economic boost to our region’, as well as hundreds of construction jobs, from right across Leeds, Bradford and Yorkshire.

It added any approval of the LBA application would not impact upon Leeds City Council’s ability to meet its climate emergency commitments, adding the aviation industry has made its own commitment to become net zero by 2050.

-> Opposition to Leeds Bradford Airport expansion grows as 90 Leeds academics and third MP object to plansA spokesperson for Leeds Bradford Airport said: “We value feedback from our communities on our proposals for a replacement terminal.

“While we can appreciate that people will be concerned about noise and emissions, we have made very clear provisions in our proposals around how we will mitigate risk and we encourage individuals to review the reports from leading experts on the portal.

“We also continue to work with the wider aviation industry on our own sustainable targets, which are regulated at an international level and are not part of Leeds City Council’s climate emergency commitments.”

The airport also claimed it had reduced its emissions by 45 percent in the last five years, and expected to see an increase in aircraft arrivals and departures from 30,000 to 46,000 per annum as part of the proposal.