Leeds Bradford Airport broke night flight rules, investigation finds


By John Baron

Leeds Bradford Airport breached the planning condition that restricts night-time movements, Leeds City Council announced this afternoon.

A planning enforcement investigation by council officers found the airport had exceeded the number of permitted night-time movements by 25% during the 2022 summer season.

In a statement has LBA apologised for ‘accidentally exceeding’ its allocation of night flights and said it understands the impact that this has had on its neighbours. A spokesperson said it was a mistake the airport had ‘worked hard to put right’.

The report’s findings and the issuing of a ‘breach of condition’ notice have been welcomed by campaigners the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA). They said: “No-one is above the law.”

Investigation’s findings

Leeds City Council received a complaint in October 2022. As part of this investigation, compliance against all the planning conditions was assessed. The investigation received full co-operation from Leeds Bradford Airport.

Following a robust analysis of the data, the investigation concluded that during the 2022 summer season there were 3,667 night-time movements, exceeding the cap imposed by 747.

The night time period is defined as 11pm to 7am and an aircraft movement is defined as a landing or a departure.

A breach of condition notice has been served by the council which Leeds Bradford Airport has accepted. As part of this notice the airport have accepted the requirement to adhere to the limits set out in their 2007 planning consent.

A revised monitoring framework has been put in place by the airport, to be reviewed by the Leeds City Council on a monthly basis, to ensure continued compliance with all of the planning conditions.

If Leeds Bradford Airport fails to adhere to the limits set out in the 2007 planning consent there are other subsequent measures and steps that the council can take, such as an enforcement notice to ensure compliance.

Council reaction

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said in a statement: “Leeds City Council understands the public concerns which have been raised regarding night-time flight movements and have investigated this matter thoroughly, in accordance with our established procedures. 

“We will continue to monitor the situation and if required the council has many further options it can pursue including, but not limited to, an Enforcement Notice. It is also important to note that a Breach of Condition Notice offers the most expedient response to resolve this issue for the people of Leeds, with no right of appeal from Leeds Bradford Airport.

“If the Breach of Condition Notice is not complied with this can escalate into summary prosecution that can be brought in the Magistrates’ Court for the offence of contravening a breach of condition notice.”

Airport response

Leeds Bradford Airport has apologised for the breaches, and has attempted to reassure residents that the breaches were accidental and that measures have been taken to address the issues.

Vincent Hodder, Chief Executive Officer of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “On behalf of LBA, I sincerely apologise for the airport exceeding the permitted number of night flights in Summer 2022. 

“I want to reassure our local communities that actions have been taken quickly to address the problems that led to this error.

“These new controls, alongside our continued collaboration with Leeds City Council, will ensure that LBA will operate within the terms of its planning consent. The Summer 2023 schedules have already been adjusted with our airline partners to reflect the conditions and we are working with the Council to ensure that conditions of the planning consent are understood by all parties and adhered to.”

The airport says there have been a series of factors that have resulted in this exceeding of night time movements.

This includes the technology used to report on night flights failing to record flight traffic data correctly, and the organisation that facilitates flights to UK airports being unaware of LBA’s full operating restrictions, resulting in additional night flights being allocated to the airport.

Protesters put their anti-airport expansion message across at Leeds Civic Hall in 2021.

GALBA response

GALBA said the council’s enforcement action as necessary to stop the airport violating the rules and damaging people’s health again this year.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “Last year, we told the council that we believed there had been over 600 more flights than allowed at night from LBA during the 2022 summer season. It turns out there were actually 747 over the limit!

“We’re pleased that the Council has accepted our complaint and is taking enforcement action. Sadly, the Council has no power to impose a fine but the breach of condition notice is important. It should mean the airport doesn’t break the night flight rules again this summer – that’s good news for local people and for the environment.”

Andy Tait, a GALBA member who lives near the airport, said: “It’s disgraceful that Leeds Bradford Airport just ignored rules that its own bosses signed up to.

“Night flights are strictly limited by a planning condition for a good reason – medical research has repeatedly shown that noise, especially at night, is linked to mental and physical health problems.

“And, of course, every additional flight means more air pollution and more damage to our climate. I don’t begrudge anyone their annual holiday but there has to be a limit on the amount of flying at night and the airport has to stick to that limit. No-one is above the law so it’s good news that the Council has taken action to enforce its own rules.”


  1. The airport “accidentally” went over its nightime flying limit by 25%? Yeah right, you could say that if it was a smaller percentage, but not by a quarter. And saying that some of it was due to flights being allocated to the airport when they shouldn’t have been, then they should have just said no. The bosses clearly knew wha was going on, as usual its all about money and see if you can get away with it. The airport should be fined, and the boss should be sacked for (seemingly) not knowing what is going on inhis own business.


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