Decision delayed on controversial development of Leeds Bradford Airport

Dave Higgens, PA
·2-min read

A decision on a £150 million development plan for Leeds Bradford Airport has been delayed to give Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick further time to consider the proposal.

The controversial plan for a new terminal was approved by councillors in Leeds earlier this year, but this decision has been referred to Mr Jenrick, who now has the final say on whether to “call-in” the proposal and hold a public inquiry.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said on Tuesday that an Article 31 Direction has been issued to allow time for “proper consideration” of the requests for the plan to be called-in.

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Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (Yui Mok/PA)

The proposed development has starkly divided opinion between those who see it is a crucial plank of economic development planning in the Leeds City Region and those who have cast it as a test case for the Government’s environmental credentials in relation to air policy.

The airport insists the new terminal is not an expansion, as it can already expand passenger numbers with its existing facilities, and that the replacement building will help it achieve its carbon net-zero goals.

But Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, said on Tuesday: “If true, pausing the plans is a sign that the Government is starting to clock the catastrophic impacts of this proposed expansion.

“But we’re just months away from hosting critical global climate talks, and this climate-wrecking mega project is clearly incompatible with our plans to cut emissions, so why only delay the decision and not just call it in now?

“Quashing the expansion plans before the global climate summit begins would be a real show of climate leadership.”

Writing in the Yorkshire Post yesterday, Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn pleaded with Mr Jenrick to call-in the plan, saying: “This one airport plans to emit more CO2 than a number of small countries which are the most vulnerable to climate change.

“While LBA expansion may not be on the scale of Heathrow, the proposal has implications that go way beyond the immediate locality of the airport.”

Leeds Bradford Airport has said its proposal will replace the existing terminal building with a more efficient and sustainable development, “enabling the airport to reach its target of becoming carbon net-zero by 2023 for airport operations”.

It estimates that it will support 12,650 permanent jobs across the Leeds City Region, as well as creating 850 construction-related jobs.

A spokesman said on Tuesday: “We acknowledge the deadline extension and hope that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will uphold Leeds City Council’s approval for our replacement terminal, which will deliver thousands of new jobs and support the region’s economy.

“Our proposals will deliver the UK’s most efficient terminal building, enabling us to become a net zero airport, building back better and enhancing connectivity within the UK and internationally.”