IT WAS with great disappointment and frustration that I read the announcement that the proposed extension to Leeds/Bradford airport has been provisionally approved by Leeds City Council.

I struggle to understand how this decision came about given the fact that five Leeds MPs signed an open letter opposing the project and the council itself declared a climate emergency in March 2019.

According to Airport Watch “Leeds City Council’s decision to green light plans for a new terminal will see annual passengers rise by three million in 2030, generating more emissions than will be permitted for the whole of Leeds in 2030 under the council’s own carbon reduction targets.”

(“Airport expansion plans show that local planning decisions on airports must be aligned with national carbon targets.” 19/02/21.) Even the Government itself is now working hard to persuade us that they have finally come round to accepting the need for urgent action on climate change.

It does seem to be yet another case of “Talk is cheap”, or “Disputatio insumptuosus est”, as Boris Johnson might say.

I do not intend to rehash the arguments for and against the expansion as there is plenty of discussion online for anyone who has still to make up their mind, including all the information from climate scientists on the “Group for Action on Leeds/Bradford Airport” site.

This is how they summarise their position: “GALBA believes that LBA expansion is the aviation equivalent of the Cumbria coal mine case.

There are striking similarities: a local authority decision - made in the same year that the UK hosts COP26 - which would result in significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions and which flatly contradicts the latest advice to government from the Committee on Climate Change in the sixth Carbon Budget.” ( Feb 2021).

The bottom line is that we simply cannot afford to increase our capacity for flying if we are to hit our 2050 net zero carbon target, let alone be a world leader in the race to net zero as Mr Johnson would like to be able to boast. Hedging around that fact by trying to make the case that we are just “managing“ demand for flying with regional airport expansions rather than increasing it, is only fooling ourselves.

As has been proven many times over with road building, increased capacity guarantees increased usage.

We must change expectations about what is possible if we are to protect the planet for future generations and the option to take frequent cheap flights is not on that list.

There are very few good reasons to fly anywhere in Europe these days given the increase in high speed and sleeper train services, taking your second foreign holiday of the year on a beach in Spain is not one of them.

The proposal for LBA expansion has now gone to Robert Jenrick. As Chris Foren, chair of GALBA says “To say the least, this decision is embarrassing for the UK's reputation as a global leader on tackling the climate crisis.” Let’s hope that, if nothing else, shames the Government into reversing it.

Amanda Caven