By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
The boss of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has admitted rules around night-time flights “may” have been broken, according to the published minutes of a meeting.
Vincent Hodder is said to have told local representatives and councillors that a cap restricting movements to and from the airport at night “looks like” it “may have been breached” last summer.
The airport has not commented any further on the quote, which was detailed in the minutes of an LBA consultative committee meeting held in March. The committee itself is run by the airport’s business administration team
LBA has been under investigation since last year over claims from campaigners that it ran too many night-time flights over the summer season in 2022. A cap on such activity is in place through the planning system to protect local residents.
The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) who raised the issue with Leeds City Council, said Mr Hodder’s apparent admission showed their complaint was justified.
The minutes of the committee’s March 15, which were published this week, quoted Mr Hodder, the airport’s CEO, as saying: “We have a meeting with Leeds City Council at the end of the month to discuss what has happened and why.
“It looks like there may have been a breach in the summer night time movement cap but this is still to be confirmed.”
He is then said to have added: “There are differences in how the planning conditions can be interpreted which is something we are working through with Leeds City Council.”
The city council has declined to comment on the quote, saying its investigation into the alleged breach is still ongoing, more than six months after it started.
GALBA, however, is growing increasingly impatient and has called for the council to report back and take action.
The group’s chair, Chris Foren, said: “Our monitoring found there were more than 600 flights from LBA above the limit for night time flying last summer.
“Mr Hodder has all but admitted this, so our complaint to Leeds City Council is justified. He also said he was meeting with the council about this at the end of March.
“So we cannot understand why it’s taking the council’s enforcement team so long to make a simple decision. Our complaint was made in October last year, it’s now May, the 2023 summer season is well under way and they’ve done nothing. What on earth is going on?”
Mr Foren said the cap had been put in place to limit excessive noise and to protect the health and wellbeing of the airport’s neighbours.
She added: “The rule was designed by the council and agreed to by LBA but it seems LBA has ignored the rule and the council didn’t do proper monitoring.
“The council still hasn’t done anything to enforce the rule. So it’s left to us, GALBA, to be the grown-ups and take responsibility on behalf of local people.”
Anyone living anywhere near the airport knows full well that the limits were exceeded last summer, it was very noisy throught the night. And the boss of the airport also knows this, he should take responsibility and be removed from his post. The council won’t rush to complete this enquiry, I’m sure plenty of council officials have financial interests in the airport’s operation and would prefer to turn a blind eye to this.