Skip to content

Approval of Leeds Bradford Airport expansion is a backward step for the climate, says AEF

11th February, 2021

Leeds City Council has today approved (subject to additional conditions still to be negotiated) Leeds Bradford Airport’s plans for a larger terminal to accommodate more passengers. In response to this news, Aviation Environment Federation’s Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said:

This decision will entrench in the Leeds economy the growth of a carbon intensive industry with diminishing returns when it comes to employment (given the growth of automated check-in and low-cost travel).
Most people[1] want our local and national economies to be rebuilt in a way that gives us a better environmental future after the pandemic, with cleaner air and more green industries that can create and sustain green jobs. Encouraging a growth in aviation will take us in the opposite direction; flying is one of the most environmentally damaging things an individual can do and there are no zero emissions planes on the horizon for commercial routes. 
While the government says it is committed to achieving net zero emissions, it hasn’t set out any plans for delivering that in aviation. The promised policy on this is long overdue. With the UK’s climate watchdog, the CCC, having now advised no net increase in UK airport capacity[2], decisions like the one taken today by Leeds City Council represent a backwards step. 
Earlier this week Cumbria County Council announced that it will be reviewing its approval for a new coal mine in the wake of the CCC’s advice in December last year on what the UK needs to do to achieve net zero emissions. Given what that advice said about airport expansion, we hope that today’s decision on Leeds Bradford Airport will be overturned. 
Our analysis shows that if all airport expansion plans[3] in the UK are granted permission, they will add an additional 9MtCO2 by 2050[4].


Contact: Tim Johnson // Cait Hewitt // 07710 381742

Notes to editor:



[3] Current UK airport expansion plans