Proposed Flight Path Changes at Leeds Bradford Airport

An aircraft landing. Image courtesy of Mark Winterbourne

The Leeds Bradford Airport proposals are now under active consideration by the Civil Aviation Authority. If you wish to make your views known to the CAA, please either fill in the CAA’s online form, or send an email to : airspace.policy@caa.co.uk quoting reference ACP-2015-10.

If you wish to object to the proposals, and would like some ideas about what to include in your objection, please see the objection made by the North West Leeds Transport Form.

Leeds Bradford Airport’s proposed flight path alterations

Image courtesy of Mark Winterbourne

There is concern that this Summer has seen an increased level of aircraft noise. There is also concern about plans to increase the size of the airport and alter flight paths so that more aircraft would fly over north west Leeds at low altitudes. These plans appear inconsistent with planning conditions which require Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to minimise the impact of aircraft on the city’s built up areas.

Under the proposals, aircraft taking off to the south east would ascend more gradually than they do at present, and would then continue in a straight line over north west Leeds and Leeds city centre (rather than turning right as most do now). This would result in increased aircraft noise in an area stretching across north west Leeds, Leeds city centre and Belle Isle. This would affect many homes and places where people congregate such as Beckett Park, Meanwood Park, Woodhouse Ridge, Woodhouse Moor and Leeds city centre. Leeds General Infirmary would also be affected.

LBA has said that it will be submitting its proposals to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in October 2018. The CAA then has 16 weeks to decide whether or not to approve them. So if people wish to comment, they should email the CAA at airspace.policy@caa.co.uk by the 21st January 2019 at the very latest, and also contact LBA’s CEO david.laws@ilba.com. If the CAA approves the proposals, LBA has said that they will be implemented in Spring 2019.

As this article shows, the CAA does take heed of people’s concerns. Just this week, it rejected similar proposals from Edinburgh Airport.

Connecting Leeds – Lack of Consultation

The Connecting Leeds Stakeholder Launch began at the Corn Exchange on 20 June 2018

In so far as it might affect the A660, the Connecting Leeds consultation exercise began on the 6th February 2018 with a workshop style meeting at St Chad’s. The meeting was chaired by Councillor Javaid Akhtar and attended by members of what would become know as the Connecting Leeds team. The Stakeholder Launch (Phase 1B) of Connecting Leeds began with a meeting at Leeds Corn Exchange on the 20th June 2018. This described Connecting Leeds as a “bus consultation.”

There followed consultations events which few if any members of the local communities which would be affected by the proposals, knew about. Theses took place as follows:

Thursday 28th June, 5pm-8pm, North Leeds YMCA
Saturday 30th June, 10am-2pm, St Chad’s Parish Church
Tuesday 3rd July, 5pm-8pm, Leeds City Academy
Wednesday 4th July, 5pm-8pm, Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre (HEART)
Thursday 5th July, 5pm-8pm, North Leeds YMCA

In response to a freedom of Information Request made to Leeds City Council on the 17th September 2018, it has been revealed that the Connecting Leeds team met with the following groups on the specified dates:

Cycle Forum

13th September 2017
11th October 2017
17th January 2018
6th February 2018
25th April 2018
15th May 2018
5th June 2018
18th July 2018
11th September 2018

Civic Trust

28th February 2018
27th June 2018

People who used the Connecting Leeds website found it very difficult to use. The infrastructure proposals were hidden and could only be accessed by website visitors who accessed the online consultation form.

What we see from the Connecting Leeds team is a repetition of the sort of consultation that was carried out by the New Generation Transport team. This involved no engagement with the local community at the same time that there was maximum engagement with the cyclists, Leeds Civic Trust and the business community.

Connecting Leeds

All of this York stone pavement would be lost if Connecting Leeds goes ahead

Described as a “bus consultation” by the council and by Metro, “Connecting Leeds” would entail major alterations to the infrastructure along the A660. Here’s a summary of most of the proposed changes from Adel to Woodhouse Moor:

  • Removal of 7 metres of the grass verge all the way along Otley Old Road.
  • Floating bus stops (these are bus stops set forward into the road that have a cycle lane behind them).
  • Removal of the grass verge at St Chad’s.
  • Closing the entrance to Weetwood Lane and creating a large plaza there for users of the adjacent pub.
  • Pushing back the 150 year old stone wall on Headingley Lane an unspecified distance into the fields on Headingley Hill.
  • “Altering” the junction of Headingley Lane with Victoria Road (presumably “altering” means demolishing shops).
  • Banning the right turn from Woodhouse Street onto Headingley Lane, and the right turn from Hyde Park Road onto Woodhouse Lane, and diverting all this traffic onto Cliff Road.
  • Widening the dual carriageway across Woodhouse Moor. It would be increased from 4 lanes to 5 lanes for half its length, and to 6 lanes for the other half.
  • Removal of an unspecified amount of the grass verge adjacent to the inbound lane of the A660 across Woodhouse Moor.
  • Removal of all the York stone pavement adjacent to the outbound lane across Woodhouse Moor to create a wider road.
  • Extending the bus lay-by at Raglan Road backwards by an un-specified amount to create a “bus only” lane.
  • Cutting down mature trees to enlarge the inbound bus stop at Hyde at Hyde Park Corner.
  • Removal of the central reservation across Woodhouse Moor and the re-location of the lighting columns to either side of the dual carriageway. This would necessitate cutting back trees or even cutting them down to prevent them obscuring light.

The deadline for commenting on the proposals is this Friday, the 3rd August.

Decarbonising passenger road transport

Image courtesy of Caribb

Most of the UK’s major sectors (power, buildings, waste and industry) are making slow but steady progress towards a low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions future. Emissions from the transport sector, however, have barely fallen against a 1990 baseline, and transport has now taken over from power as the highest emitting UK sector. Cars were responsible for 17% of total UK CO2 emissions in 2015 (up from 6% in 1970) and made up 58% of transport emissions.

Dr Rachel Freeman discusses here why transport has proved so difficult to decarbonise compared to other sectors.

Planning application to build on Headingley Hill rejected at Appeal

A horse on the fields on Headingley Hill

A planning inspector has today rejected appeal APP/N4720/W/17/3172413 against refusal of planning permission to build 33 houses on the fields on Headingley Hill.

Here are some of the comments made by the inspector in her report published today:

  • There is no dispute that the site has a historic significance derived from its continued pastoral use which has existed from at least the post-medieval period, and which today in this densely populated urban area is unique.
  • Its current open pastoral use is clearly valued highly by the local community both visually, and from the sense of wellbeing it brings.
  • The open and bucolic qualities of the appeal site form an important part of the street scene.
  • The development of the site would have a materially detrimental effect on the character and appearance of the area, as it would substantially erode an area of open space which positively contributes to the significance of the Conservation Area.

Well done everyone who objected. This is very good news for Headingley.

Trolleybus report finds no one was to blame

Leader of the council, Judith Blake (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

Leader of the council, Judith Blake (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

In July 2016, the leader of the council, Judith Blake, set up an inquiry into the failed trolleybus and tram schemes.1

The inquiry was conducted by a group of councillors collectively known as the Scrutiny Board (Infrastructure and Investment). Chaired by Councillor Paul Truswell (Labour, Middleton Park), the board met several times towards the end of 2016 and at the beginning of 2017 to consider the matter.

When it met again earlier today (Wednesday, 27 September 2017), the board discussed a draft report which sets out its findings.2 At paragraph 15, the report concludes:

“…it is our view that the process was unsound from inception to final conclusion, due to a series of unhelpful circumstances and weaknesses, some of which would have been difficult to identify at the time, but have been recognised with the benefit of hindsight and self-reflection.”

In other words, it was a bad scheme, but no one at the council or Metro was to blame.

Commenting on the report, Councillor Blake focussed on future opportunities rather than past failures.3

References

Trolleybus decision – the main points

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

At 10am on Thursday the 12th May 2016, the Department for Transport announced that Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin had decided to reject Leeds City Council’s and Metro’s application to build a trolleybus system. Here is a summary of the reasons he gave for the refusal:

  • The scheme would deliver improvements to a relatively small part of Leeds and could result in poorer public transport services in other parts of the city.
  • There is little evidence to show that the scheme would serve the most deprived areas of Leeds.
  • The scheme would harm the built and natural environment as a result of the introduction of over-head wires, additional street clutter, and the loss of trees and green spaces.
  • The scheme would not significantly improve access to jobs because of the fewer stops provided, the limited locations it would serve and the relatively poor integration with other public transport.
  • Because the trolley vehicles would share significant sections of the route with other traffic, they could be vulnerable to congestion and other delays making journey times less reliable than predicted by the applicants.
  • The likely high proportion of people having to stand in peak times would be a deterrent to passengers.
  • Surveys indicate a strong preference for new double-decker buses over articulated vehicles or trolleybuses.
  • The scheme would do little to make the route more attractive for cyclists and would result in insufficient improvements in pedestrian facilities and safety to encourage walking.
  • The scheme would not be fully integrated with other public transport as trolley vehicles would not use the same stops as buses and would not access the bus station.
  • By taking patronage from existing buses the scheme would compromise the commercial sustainability and efficient use of the existing bus service.
  • The method used by the applicants to make patronage forecasts for the scheme based on the Stated Preference survey results does not inspire confidence.
  • The demand for the proposed park and ride sites has been over-estimated.
  • The over-head wiring cannot be regarded as a positive feature that could influence investment decisions in the area by its appearance of permanence.
  • The applicants have not properly taken into account evidence that other forms of technology are progressing or that trolley vehicle technology has not been widely adopted in recent years.
  • The promoters have given insufficient weight to the environmental harm caused by over-head wiring compared with other modes of propulsion.
  • The applicants have not fully examined whether there are more suitable corridors for a rapid transit system to meet the scheme’s objectives.
  • The policy support for the scheme at national and local level has to be weighed against the harm which the scheme would cause to heritage assets, green space and biodiversity which contravene other national and local policies.
  • The impact of the scheme in operation on overall air quality including carbon emissions would be negative due to the impact on other traffic and the use of grid electricity.
  • The over-head line equipment would be more extensive than for trams and is likely to have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of buildings and their setting
  • The viability of some businesses is likely to be harmed by implementation of the scheme.
  • There would be a reduction in the overall area of open space as a result of the scheme, some of which is difficult to justify against the likely benefits of the scheme.
  • The need to separate trolleybus stops from other bus stops would make it less convenient for people to use public transport
  • Because the scheme is predicted to take much of its patronage from existing bus services, it could result in a reduction in bus services in the corridor and elsewhere.
  • If bus operators competed with the trolleybus, this could threaten the viability of the scheme.
  • Congestion would not be improved by the scheme, with some junctions having greater queue lengths and an increase in the overall distance travelled annually by cars.
  • The reduction of parking and other traffic restrictions along the corridor could affect the viability of businesses.
  • Parts of the route would be shared with pedestrians which would result in either trolley vehicles not being able to travel at their design speeds or else a risk to pedestrian safety.
  • Cycling facilities were not a priority in designing the scheme and some design standards have been compromised in favour of motor vehicles and trolley vehicles, putting the safety of cyclists at risk.
  • The A660 corridor is not particularly suitable for articulated vehicles.
  • The scale of standing by passengers on the trolley vehicles would be a safety concern.
  • There would be significant adverse impacts on heritage assets and the loss of mature trees and open space along the route.
  • The loss of trees, green space and the impact on the historic environment would not be adequately mitigated.
  • Any beneficial impacts on the character and appearance of areas to the south of the route would not compensate for the severe harm to the character and appearance of conservation areas and listed buildings in the north.
  • The Business Case should have included a monetised estimate for construction phase impacts, which are likely to be significant.
  • The assumed journey times are optimistic and there is insufficient evidence to substantiate them.
  • Insufficient detail has been given to verify the applicants’ cost estimates and to provide assurance that they are unlikely to be exceeded.
  • There is a realistic possibility that the scheme would not attract the necessary funding to maintain it, even with the commitment that has been made to fund its construction should the Order be made.
  • On the basis of the evidence submitted to the inquiry, there is a significant degree of uncertainty about whether the scheme would be operationally viable.
  • There may be cheaper options requiring less compulsory purchase of land that would be more effective in addressing the aims and objectives of the scheme.

Links

Inspector’s Report 12.5.1.6

Secretary of State’s Decision Letter 12.5.16

Norman Baker on the trolleybus decision

Former Lib Dem MP and transport minister, Norman Baker.

Former Lib Dem MP and transport minister, Norman Baker.

Leeds University’s Clothworkers Centenary Hall was the venue for this evening’s talk by former Lib Dem MP Norman Baker about his experience as a transport minister in the coalition government. Mr Baker, who had been invited to speak by the Institute for Transport Studies, gave fascinating insights into how government works, recalling how as a result of a phone call from Angela Merkel to David Cameron, Britain changed its policy on vehicle fuel efficiency, a move that favoured German car manufacturers and which caused fury amongst British car manufacturers and consternation amongst Mr Cameron’s colleagues. He also told how he had been interested in using transport policy to cut carbon emissions, whilst his Conservative colleague Philip Hammond had been more interested in using it to promote growth. He described the workings of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the Green Bus Fund and said that these were both Lib Dem initiatives. During the question and answer session, Mr Baker was asked a number of questions including this one about the decision on the trolleybus application:

“Following the public inquiry into the application by Leeds City Council and Metro for a Transport and Works act order to allow them to construct a trolleybus line, who will the decision really be made by? Will it be transport minister Lord Ahmad, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, senior Department for Transport officials, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne? And what do you think the key factor will be in the decision on whether or not to give the scheme the go-ahead?”

In response, Mr Baker said that in 2010 he was of the opinion that Leeds should have a tram system as it was the only major city in Europe without a rapid transit system. But he said that because at that time, a trolleybus was all that Leeds was asking for, he decided to help the city with its application.

Mr Baker said that if the transport minster is busy when the trolleybus papers from the Department for Transport land on his desk, he might sign them without looking at them. He also said that if George Osborne or Patrick McLoughlin ring the minister and say they want the scheme to go ahead, then it would go ahead irrespective of what senior officers recommend.

Lord Ahmad will make trolleybus decision

Lord Ahmad (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

Lord Ahmad (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

It was reported today on MP Greg Mulholland’s website,1 that Robert Goodwill will not after all be deciding the future of the trolleybus proposal. The announcement is the result of concern expressed by Mr Mulholland to Transport Secretary Patrick Mcloughlin about remarks made by Mr Goodwill in 2009 which indicated his support for the proposal. Mr Goodwill had said at a meeting of the Parliamentary Yorkshire and Humber Regional Grand Committee2:

“Leeds is now looking at – I hope it will go forward with this – a trolley bus scheme”

Mr Mulholland’s website states:

Mr McLoughlin has now confirmed that the final decision will instead be made by Lord Ahmad to avoid “even the appearance of bias”.

Tariq Ahmad is a businessman and former Wimbledon councillor. He became Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon in 2011 and was made a transport minister in May 2015.

References