UCU University of Leeds Branch voted to oppose Leeds City Council’s decision to approve the Leeds Bradford Airport expansions in a general meeting of members on Wednesday 10 March 2021. The Branch President has subsequently written to the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, to ask him to call in this planning application for a public enquiry.
This branch notes:
- The recent dismal decision of Leeds City Council (LCC) City Plans Panel to provisionally approve the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to build a new terminal, leading to a substantial increase in flights and therefore carbon emissions.
- Following this provisional approval, the University of Leeds’s UCU Climate and Ecological Emergency working group and University of Leeds climate and sustainability experts drafted a letter to the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, asking the Government to ‘call in’ (review) the planning application for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. The letter was signed by over 100 people.
- That the UK Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget published in December 2020 states that (i) there should be no expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory (Table p8.1, p29) and (ii) the Government should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net-zero and any lasting impacts on demand from COVID-19 (para 2, p34). Expanding LBA would increase the flight passenger volume by 75%, exceeding the maximum growth compatible with the UK’s legally adopted net-zero target.
- That an increase in international flights runs contrary to the UK’s climate targets and responsibilities to international climate mitigation as per the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement.
- It also runs contrary to the findings of the Leeds Climate Commission citizens’ jury where 18 out of 21 citizens members believe that it was the wrong decision to expand LB airport.
- That approving LBA expansion is in stark conflict with LCC’s decision to declare a Climate Emergency in May 2019 and makes the stated aim of Leeds being carbon neutral by 2030 practically impossible.
- The planning application and the Planning Office report to Leeds City Plan Panel dramatically understated the climate impact of the expansion. University of Leeds experts found that in case of expansion, LBA’s climate impact would be almost four times larger than LBA claimed.
- The critical role played by University of Leeds climate and sustainability experts who submitted detailed evidence of the full climate impact of LBA expansion during the consultation period to LCC.
This Branch believes:
- The decision of LCC is an abdication of its civic duty to protect the citizens of Leeds from harmful effects of even more aeroplane emissions and pollution over the city, also exposing those under the flight path to more noise pollution
- That it is our responsibility as an academic community with expertise in climate change, sustainability, and zero carbon futures to demonstrate leadership on climate change and oppose this decision and stand up for the wider community in Leeds to fight for a socially just transportation transition
- That to tackle current unemployment and promote post-Covid recovery, job opportunities should instead be created in sustainable businesses, to progress cutting carbon emissions, such as creating green jobs to improve energy efficiency
Leeds University UCU therefore resolves:
- To support the open letter drafted by the University’s UCU Climate and Ecological Emergency working group to the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, the branch president will write a follow up letter to Robert Jenrick MP.
- To support the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (Galba) in their attempts to make a legal challenge to this decision by making a donation of £200
- Forward this resolution to other UCU branches in the region, asking them to support this cause.