Government intervenes in Leeds Bradford Airport plans and orders planning inquiry

The Government has ordered a planning inquiry to decide whether the decision to approve the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport should be reversed.

Housing secretary Michael Gove has called in Leeds City Council’s decision, 11 months after it was made.

A planning inspector will decide whether the development should be allowed to go ahead, during an inquiry, but a date for the hearing has not been set yet.

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The inspector will have to determine whether the plans are consistent with Government policies on climate change and the protection of green belt land.

Leeds Bradford Airport

The council granted planning permission to build a new £150m terminal in February 2021, despite almost 2,000 objections.

The owners of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) said they want to replace the existing terminal, which was built in the 1960s, with a modern facility that is more energy efficient by 2023.

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Objectors claimed the development will lead to an increase in passenger numbers and flights, which will generate more harmful emissions.

A group of climate scientists from the University of Leeds also said the council, which has declared a carbon emergency, would not be able to meets its ambitious emmission-reduction targets if the airport expansion was approved.

But the airport said it was granted permission to increase passenger numbers from four million a year to seven million a year when the council approved plans to extend the existing airport terminal in January 2019.

Chris Foren, Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), said: “We’re very pleased with Mr Gove’s decision.

“It means that all of the consequences of LBA expansion will be properly considered by experienced planning experts.

“Among other things, the inquiry will look at ‘the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies for meeting the challenge of climate change’.

“Airport expansion is obviously inconsistent with tackling the climate crisis.”

Vincent Hodder, LBA chief executive, said: “We remain convinced in the economic, environmental and customer service cases for our replacement terminal.

"Our proposals are robust and we are committed to being an outstanding airport for passengers. We hope this decision does not signal a lost opportunity to level up the North of England. The plans not only comply with national and regional legislation, but also present a faster way for us to meet our Net Zero Strategy and a welcome boost for the UK tourism industry to bounce back from the pandemic.

“Our aim with this development has always been to bring the flight operating procedures of LBA in line with other UK and European airports – which are nearly 30 years old -, overhaul surface access solutions and deliver a level of passenger experience the Leeds City Region is striving to achieve.

"Blocking these changes would limit all of this and the region’s ambitions to become a modern, vibrant European city, attractive to the rest of the world as a place to invest.

“We look forward to hearing the final decision in due course.”