Leeds Bradford Airport expansion to go to public inquiry

19 Jan 2022

Planning and Environment, Public Law and Judicial Review

After a wait of almost a year, the Secretary of State has today called in the decision on the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport, including the construction of a new terminal building and modifications to flight time controls. Leeds Bradford Airport Ltd promoted the application to allow the airport to grow from 4 to 7 million passengers per annum.

A group of four climate scientists at Leeds University calculated that over the period 2024-2050, the net effect of the development would be an additional 11.3 Mt CO2e, meaning the airport would consume 75% of the total carbon budget for the whole of Leeds up to 2050. The Application also involves inappropriate development in the Green Belt through the provision of a building the total proposed floor space of which is greater than 1,000 square meters.

On 11 February 2021, Leeds City Council’s Plans Panel voted 9-5 in favour of the application, subject to the tightening up of certain conditions. On 18 February 2021, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), the main community group opposed to the development, wrote to the Secretary of State asking that he calls in the application because of the significant climate and economic effects beyond the immediate locality of the development, which had caused national controversy and had the potential to cause cross-boundary controversy, and because the proposal conflicted with national policies on green belt and on climate change.

On 11 March 2021, the City Plans Panel confirmed its approval in principle of the application, but was required to refer the application to the Secretary of State because of the nature and extent of green belt development. On 7 April 2021, the Secretary of State delayed the call-in decision for an unspecified period.

Today, the Secretary of State confirmed he was calling in the decision, identifying that he particularly wished to be informed about the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with policies for protecting green belt land; with policies for meeting the challenge of climate change and with the local development plan. The letter to the Council is here and to GALBA is here. The Planning Inspectorate will now begin the process of coordinating the public inquiry, which is likely to take place in late 2022.

Estelle Dehon represented GALBA during the application process.