Words: John Baron. Photos: Ivor Hughes
The row over night flights at Leeds Bradford International Airport intensified at a public meeting in Leeds last night.
More than 80 people attended the meeting in Cookridge after the airport applied to Leeds City Council for clarity over some of the rules surrounding quieter aircraft and emergency flights – but local residents and environmental campaigners fear this could open the floodgates for more night flights between 11pm and 7am.
Protests were also held outside while the public meeting was being held.
The meeting, which was organised by Westwood councillors, follows accusations that LBA has breached its summer season night flight quota for the second consecutive year.
The airport surpassed its 2,920 flight limit for the British Summer Time (BST) period last week, campaigners Group for Action on Leeds Bradford (GALBA) Airport has claimed. LBA has strongly denied this, saying under its interpretation of planning conditions it has not exceeded the limit.
Last night’s meeting was described as ‘polite but hostile’ by one attendee, with people under the flight path expressing their concerns about the impact of night flights on their lives.
Airport CEO Vincent Hodder said LBA is not seeking to change the planning conditions that apply to the airport.
“The CLEUD applications will provide a determination and clarify how the existing planning permission, written nearly 30 years ago, should operate,” he said.
“This will allow LBA to ensure that it remains compliant with the conditions in a complicated and changing landscape.”
But Nick Hodgkinson, from GALBA said: “They want to change the rules so they can fly at night and that would have consequences for people’s health and our climate.”
Andy Tait, a GALBA member who lives under the flight path, said: “Night time flying is bad news for anyone under the flight path. It isn’t just people living close to the airport who are affected.
“GALBA has been contacted by people as far away as Beeston and Bramley, who tell us that noisy planes are the talk of the playground, particularly among autistic children. The disturbance from these flights is a major cause of all kinds of serious health issues. That’s why there are rules – to protect the public. And, of course, more night flights means more deadly greenhouse gases polluting our climate.”
GALBA says it has had communication from West Leeds residents expressing their concerns over night flights, in particular in Burley and Kirkstall, but also from Armley, Bramley and Pudsey.
Airport bosses have agreed to meet residents again over night flying issues and to answer written questions.