MP calls for Government inquiry into Leeds Bradford Airport plans approvals

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 Northwest, where the airport is based, has asked Whitehall to call in the decision made by Leeds City Councillors this month to approve the £150m new facility due to huge concerns about the effect of extra flights on the environment.

But not everyone is supportive of the MP’s move, as one regional transport heavyweight said the decision would help open up Yorkshire as a “gateway to Europe”.

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Following further discussions this week Leeds City Council planning chiefs voted to continue to back plans to rebuild LBA’s terminal, with some members expressing concerns that, should they reject the application, it would be overturned on appeal and the council would have to pay extra costs.

Alex Sobel has said that a committee of councillors should not have been asked to make the decision on the airport.

But 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.”

Environmental campaigners have long been opposed to plans to increase the size of the airport, as they claim such a move would increase the capacity for extra flights, thus creating an increase in carbon emissions which would dwarf any positive work done locally to combat climate change.

Some business leaders in the region, however, say such an expansion would be vital to the future of the region’s economy.

Members of Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel, who approved plans for the new terminal in principle last month, met 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.

Councillors allowed the old building to remain standing for the time being, but stood firm on only extending the flying times once the new terminal was finished.

Following the meeting, Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “It is right that the council has approved plans to replace the outdated terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport.

“This move will allow the airport to act as gateway for the Yorkshire to Europe and and beyond, stimulating economic growth and cutting down the number of people travelling by car down to Heathrow to fly – reducing the immediate pressures requiring a third runway by utilising spare northern runway capacity.”

“We’re also pleased to see that there will be investment in the parkway train station, which will unlock even more connectivity benefits for the region and provide the maximum impact to local people and businesses.”

Speaking today, CEO of Leeds Bradford Airport Vincent Hodder 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.”