Great Britain

MP announces opposition to Leeds Bradford Airport expansion

A local MP has announced that he will not be supporting Leeds Bradford Airport's expansion plans.

Alex Sobel, who has just been re-elected in Leeds North West, says increasing passenger numbers at any of the UK's airports is incompatible with tackling the climate crisis.

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA), at Yeadon, wishes to step up its operations so it can double passenger numbers - taking them to eight million by 2030.

But Mr Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) has said he would instead like to see LBA maintain its current level as part of a national action plan to control the environmental harm being caused by aviation.

His comments come in the same week that the Leeds Climate Change Citizens' Jury has called for Leeds City Council - which declared a Climate Emergency in March - to oppose LBA's growth and to scrap plans for an airport link road.

The MP said: "Whilst it is true that the airport is an important employer in our region, we must ask ourselves whether continued expansion of UK airports is sustainable given the climate crisis and the challenge we face with our air quality.

"I believe that any approach to row back on airport expansion should be national, as relocating the problem is not the answer either.

"I will continue to do what I can in Parliament to press for a national aviation plan that does not depend on continued expansion of UK airports."

Mr Sobel's stance is being backed by Otley Town Council's sole Green Councillor, Mick Bradley (Green, Danefield).

He said: "I welcome Alex Sobel's public announcement that he will not support airport expansion. There are serious environmental concerns regarding noise and air pollution both from increased flights and increased traffic to the airport.

"We can’t continue to expand airports and build expensive new connecting roads at the same time as addressing a climate emergency.

"I agree the airport should continue at its current level, as should other airports nationally.

"A tax on those who fly frequently would help to control the number of passenger flights."

An evidence-based paper published by the Leeds Climate Commission this week, meanwhile, says aviation emissions pose a 'major challenge' in Leeds' attempts to hit a net zero carbon target by 2030.

The paper represents one of the first attempts to analyse the issue of aviation’s contribution to a UK city’s carbon budget - as aviation emissions are not currently included in such budgets.

It also calls for a national strategy to support measures that would limit, and then offset, the impacts of aircraft emissions.

Leeds Bradford Airport's Chief Executive, Hywel Rees, said: "We always value feedback from stakeholders, interested groups and the public.

"Environmental responsibility is something we take seriously and we’re working in collaboration with airline partners to minimise the impact of their operations.

"Air travel forms an essential part of our region’s infrastructure which supports business growth, jobs and the economy.

"We are committed to supporting regional prosperity, while continuing the progress we have already made to reduce the airport’s impact on the environment.

"CO2 emissions from aircraft in flight is a national and international issue, and Leeds Bradford Airport will do all it can to play its part in supporting the global effort to reduce them."

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