The construction of a new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport has been widely condemned for its prospective environmental consequences. Those in favour believe there are ecological benefits to the expansion, while objecters say it will increase air and noise pollution.
Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, says building the new terminal will be the “investment in infrastructure” the North needs to enable sustainable travel.
On Thursday, Leeds City Council approved a £150 million plan to expand Leeds Bradford Airport. The decision has been criticised by environmental campaigners. The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has recently launched a crowdfunding page to raise money for an appeal. The Just Giving page has so far raised £8480, which is 28% of their £30 000 goal.
Lawyer Estelle Dehon says there is “an inconsistency in approach”, as supporters recognise the future technological developments in aviation, but fail to acknowledge that business travel can be significantly reduced through virtual meetings. She spoke on behalf of GALBA, as their environmental and planning barrister.
Henri Murison, who pleaded in favour of the expansion during the council meeting on Thursday, says Leeds needs “practical and sustainable ways for people to travel”. He says the new terminal will “create more employment in the north of England”. “Business connectivity” in the North needs to be improved, in order to take the pressure off London and the south-east, where such expansions are constantly needed.
“This airport remains a relatively small institution in economic sense. And it will provide the business connectivity the Leeds City region needs to be able to grow and attract investment,” Mr Murison says.
What about the UK net zero target?
Britain has recently registered a greater decrease in carbon emissions than any other developed country. Building the new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport is a cause for concern for many environmental experts, who worry it might significantly affect Britain’s aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Leeds-based climate activist Brannoc Stevenson says “this decision will use 75% of Leeds’s carbon budget by 2050”. He believes the expansion is “unsustainable and outdated”, and it will “pump more pollution into Leeds”.
Estelle Dehon says Leeds City Council has failed “to consider carbon impact in relation to the national, regional, and local carbon budget”. Domestic and international flights combined will take up most of Leeds’s carbon budget, Ms Dehon says.
Supporting the decision to build the new terminal, Henri Murison says aviation is one of the hardest industries to decarbonise. The development will reduce emissions around the area, by enabling easier access through public transport, which “is a start”, Mr Murison says.
“I don’t think it’s enough in any way, shape, or form”, but until decarbonising aviation will be possible, “there are things we can do in other parts of our economy and our society.”
Leeds City Council’s decision is not definitive and until formal planning permission is given, works on the expansion cannot begin. The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport are aiming to raise £30 000 to cover the costs of their legal appeal against the Council’s decision.