Expand public transport, not the airport

Submitted by AWL on 11 March, 2020 - 10:56 Author: Luke Hardy
leeds bradford

A serious campaign is picking up momentum against the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA).

The private owners of LBA want to build a new passenger terminal that will increase the number of passengers from 4 million a year to 7.1 million a year by 2030, and 9 million by 2050.

In March 2019, in response to pressure from youth climate strikers and XR, Leeds City Council declared a “Climate Emergency” – committing Leeds to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Research from Leeds University has shown the planned expansion will lead to a massive overspend on the city’s carbon budget, making the 2030 net zero target impossible to meet. The climate impact of the flights would be more than double the 2030 target emissions for Leeds as a whole.

The Tory government is encouraging the expansion of regional airports, and the Labour council initially welcomed the expansion. Pressure from below has now led to a cooling of this response.

The plans are being submitted for planning permission soon. Local Labour parties are joining up with climate campaigners to pass motions in opposition. The Trades Council organising joint meetings with climate strikers and XR members.

The council has a key role in making the airport expansion feasible by building new link roads and possibly linking up to a new railway station. Even if the council refuses planning permission, and is then overruled by central government, the council’s decisions remain key.

Leeds is already one of the worst cities in Britain for air pollution, its clogged roads already full of airport traffic. There has been no real investment in our bus services. We are one of the biggest cities to lack any kind of mass transit system beyond the overcrowded rail network.

This rail network was until recently mainly run by the notorious Northern Rail, and seemed mostly to be about packed and dirty trains often up to 35 years old.

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