Leeds Bradford Airport owner denies it wants to run ‘unlimited’ night flights

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has denied claims it wants to run an unlimited number of night-time flights.

Campaigners and local councillors fear applications submitted by LBA to Leeds City Council this week would allow them to have supposedly quieter planes taking off and landing between 11pm and 7am.

Suggestions that approval of the applications would effectively free the airport of the strict cap on night-time flights it breached last summer were put to LBA on Thursday.

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In response, the airport said it was seeking to “reach an agreed understanding” with the council over the conditions it is bound to operate by.

Leeds Bradford AirportLeeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport

But in an updated statement on Friday afternoon, after the original story was published, LBA said: “We have not submitted an application to operate an unlimited number of night flights at LBA.

“The certificate of lawfulness of existing use or development submissions are part of a process to clarify how the existing planning permission, which was originally consented nearly 30 years ago, should operate now. We are in ongoing, constructive dialogue with Leeds City Council to reach an agreed consensus on the issue.”

The original conditions the airport says it is seeking clarity on were imposed by the local authority in 2007. Those conditions effectively banned planes above a certain noise threshold from running at night.

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Two of the airport’s five applications, which have been submitted as certificates of lawful development, ask for the council to confirm the airport has “immunity from enforcement” if planes beneath a specificied noise threshold run at night.

A third asks for confirmation that, similarly, aircraft with a specific type of noise level is not among those banned at night.

Speaking earlier this week, Otley and Yeadon’s Liberal Democrat councillor Colin Campbell claimed if the applications were approved, it would “allow them to exempt the majority of planes from the quota and in effect have unlimited night-time flying.”

Campaigners Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), who first reported LBA to the council for breaching its night-time flight cap last summer, were also heavily critical.

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A spokesperson said: “GALBA is angry to learn that LBA’s bosses want to change the rules on night-time flying simply because they can’t stick to the current rules. Their changes would mean many, many more planes flying at night, damaging peoples’ health and damaging our climate.”

Certificates of lawful development are different to planning applications, in that they are awarded to applicants to clarify whether or not a development or practice is within the rules. Unlike planning applications, they are not subject to public consultation or advertisement. Leeds City Council has said it will make a ruling on the applications by November 1.