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Leeds Bradford Airport expansion: My objection submitted to Leeds City Council Planning

Below is a copy of my objection to the planning application from Leeds Bradford Airport reference number 20/02559/FU. To submit your own comments, please do so here. The current deadline is Friday 15th June 2020.

General Comment

I have no in-principle objections to the building of a new terminal and support building new buildings with lower carbon footprints and better waste processes. However, I have deep concerns that the underlying business model to pay for the terminal equates to an expansion of passenger number and flights. In the context of the climate emergency, and if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must put public health at the forefront of public decision making, ahead of any perceived economic benefit. A net increase of pollution from the airport due to an increase of flights will undermine the city in its policy to meet net zero carbon by 2030 and will impact the air quality, which in normal circumstances is in breach of the UK and EU guidelines, let alone the World Health Organisation target which is the target to which we should aspire. The resultant increase in noise pollution will be of great concern to many of my residents who live under the flight path and would likely have an adverse effect on local biodiversity as well as its own negative impact on public health. I understand that under the original planning regulations, speculation as to the future business impact of a building was not a consideration, that said under Leeds City Council’s climate emergency policy, it would not be reasonable to separate the fabric of the building from its intended future use. Indeed, in the recent planning decisions regarding expansion of Bristol and Stanstead Airports as well as the ruling on Heathrow’s third runway, the climate emergency was a key driver behind the decision to reject those applications. In the current context of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shrinkage of the aviation sector, this does not seem from the outside to be a viable business model. If this was to go ahead but the financial projections to pay for the building weren’t reached, I would worry for the future economic stability of Leeds Bradford Airport, and the impact on staff.

Extended daylight flight times

The application outlines the intention to extend daytime flight times, for landing and take-off, to between 6am and 11.30pm. The resultant effect in noise for residents of my constituency would be significant and the resultant effect on public health from that increase would be clear. It is also unclear, given the recent coronavirus crisis and shrinkage in the airline industry, that this change would be economically beneficial.

Impact on local roads

Whilst I am in support of the new Leeds Bradford Airport parkway station, it is of concern that an expansion at this stage could cause an increase in local through traffic in the communities around the airport, including Yeadon in my constituency. It is unclear what the impact of coronavirus will be on the public confidence to use public transport, but my best indication is that there will be a likely increase in journeys made by car. This must be factored into the decision.

Whilst I note the increase of on-site parking facilities, there is likely also to be an increase of local parking problems, particularly in the streets near the airport that have inadequate ‘residents-only’ parking. This could be exacerbated by the parking cap at the existing level which I appreciate is done to discourage car journeys. The council must consider residents only parking for all residential streets within a one-kilometre radius of Leeds Bradford Airport whilst providing adequate local parking facilities for local business.

The inclusion of a new bus station within the airport is welcome. That said, it is unclear whether it will have a significant impact as to the concerns outlined above.

Note on time frame

I have written previously to make the point that the existing time frame for responses to this application is far too short given the complexities of the application, the number of documents and the impact of the current pandemic on the public consciousness.

Note on environmental policies put forward in the application

I would commend the airport on their addition of environmental factors, particularly around the construction process and building standards and accept that this will reduce the carbon footprint of the airport building itself. This is welcome. However, as stated above, the intended purpose of this new building is to encourage an increase of passenger numbers and therefore an increase of flights. It is not possible to mitigate the environmental damage caused by air pollution of such an increase with high building standards.

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