The Today programme on airport expansion

Image courtesy of the BBC.

The planned Leeds Bradford Airport extension was discussed on this morning’s Today programme. Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for Infrastructure and Climate took part:

Nick Robinson: More than a third of councils in England are advocating policies that could increase carbon emissions, whilst at the same time having declared what they call a “climate emergency.” That’s the finding of BBC research, done with the assistance as ever, of our energy and environment analyst Roger Harrabin. Tell us more Roger.

Roger Harrabin: Well, it was a really good result to the survey. 90% as you say, have declared a climate emergency. And others told us that actually, they were taking climate change really seriously as well. But they weren’t quite comfortable necessarily with the “emergency” word. It’s taken a long time. Obviously, councillors normally pre-occupied with what they’re elected for: local services, housing, transport and waste. But now we’re seeing a different sort of priorities coming in. There’s widespread priority for walking and cycling. Newcastle for instance says it wants to become a 15 minute city where you can do everything within 15 minutes on foot or by bike that you would want to do. Coventry has an ultra light rail system they’re looking at. Kensington and Chelsea, quite interesting here. They’re thinking of charges per gram of CO2 for parking, and widespread home insulation. But as you say, one in three of those councils who’s declared an emergency, is still backing projects that are pushing in the opposite direction. Road building or airports for instance. Leeds aims to be one of the top green cities in the UK. It’s record is really impressive in many ways, but it’s still backing airport expansion. And their climate leader, Helen Hayden, explains their dilemma:

Councillor Helen Hayden: It’s extremely difficult to get that balance right, and there are always going to be competing factors. If we don’t expand, the fear is that somebody else will and that economic growth will go elsewhere.

Nick Robinson: Roger, isn’t that where we are just now? Which is almost all politicians of all colours declare that they think there is a crisis. But when it comes to the question of, “Who pays for us to rip out our gas boiler, to drive an electric car, or indeed to stop flying?” – no one’s quite clear what the answers are.

Roger Harrabin: That’s exactly right Nick, and not just in the UK. I mean, wherever you look round the world, the urgency of the situation is now upon us. You know, the IPCC report earlier on in the week. I mean a lot of people found frankly frightening. But how you translate that into policy, to nudge business as usual, that’s a different matter. If you ask climate experts, they’ll say with an issue like Leeds and the airport for instance. We have now to install a policy where at national or local or international level, there should be no spending on policies that increase emissions. They see that as very simple. They’re looking for the UK government and local councils to impose a policy like that. And you mentioned money. The National Audit Office back the local councils actually, when they say they’re not getting enough money. And they’re urging the government to prioritise spending through local governments because they say it’s the most efficient way of doing it.

Nick Robinson: Roger Harrabin, thank you.

You can listen to the above extract from the Today programme here.

Helen Hayden Look North Interview

Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for Infrastructure and Climate, Councillor Helen Hayden, was interviewed earlier this evening by BBC Look North presenter Phil Bodmer. Councillor Hayden spoke about the council’s decision to approve the airport’s planning application to expand, the need for the government to have a policy on airport expansion in the UK, and the need for funding. You can watch the interview here.

GALBA – appeal for help

Image courtesy of Leeds Bradford Airport.

GALBA (Groups Against Leeds Bradford Airport) is appealing for your help:

“The government recently announced its new ‘Jet Zero’ draft strategy for the future of aviation. With its over-reliance on unproven future technology and its failure to accept the Climate Change Committee’s advice that aviation expansion must be stopped, this draft strategy is dangerous and reckless. It also has the potential to shape all aviation decisions in the UK for the foreseeable future, including the decision by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick on whether to call in LCC’s approval of Leeds Bradford Airport’s planning application, and put it before a public inquiry.

We urgently need your help to help fight Jet Zero. Please consider doing one (or all) of the actions below…

  • Respond to the consultation before the 8th September.
  • Write to your MP to ask them to exert their influence.
  • Write to the press about Jet Zero.

We have produced a set of guide responses, should you find this helpful. This link: takes you directly to these guide responses and the email address to send them to.

Thank you.

The GALBA Committee


Our key concerns about Jet Zero are as follows:

  • The government has chosen to ignore key recommendations from the Climate Change Committee, its own expert climate advisers, and instead to accept the UK aviation industry’s proposals.
  • In doing so, it has failed to act on CCC advice that passenger growth must be limited first and foremost by stopping airport expansion. Instead, the government is relying almost entirely on claims that carbon net-zero flying can be achieved by 2050 by relying purely on as yet unproven new technology, ‘sustainable fuels’ and offsetting.
  • There are well documented problems and huge uncertainties associated with all of the technical solutions proposed in Jet Zero.
  • In choosing to put all its bets on the industry’s untested techo-fixes, the government is taking a huge gamble with everyone’s future. We need more than a ‘wing & a prayer’ to decarbonise aviation.”

Changes to the Highway Code providing higher safety standards

Photo courtesy of Peter O’Connor.

These much overdue changes are to be really welcomed; however, it is unfortunate that they are presented solely as benefits for pedestrians and cyclists.

The changes mean that in their driving habits, drivers will have to make a move towards defensive driving. This will primarily protect drivers from deaths, injuries and vehicle damage, with a consequent reduction in insurance costs.

Even non-drivers have friends and relatives who drive and we should be as concerned about driver safety as well as safety for active travellers.

In many ways, drivers are the primary victims of political apathy towards road safety and they need helping with better opportunities to improve their driving.

It should be a key policy of at-work safety to give people defensive driving and speed awareness courses, as well as advanced driver training.

This is already a major policy in the bus industry and bus travel is as safe as train travel despite the anarchic situation which within which buses are forced to operate.

There needs to be a strong impetus to encourage driver training in work environments. The bus industry is excellent in this respect and so are most lorry and some taxi companies.

However, in the van delivery sector and in taxis there is a need for improvement.

Safer roads are better for everyone and will bring serious financial savings for businesses, local authorities, the NHS and the Exchequer. Safer roads could directly raise our GDP by 1% which is much more significant than it sounds.

It is to be hoped people who care about the safety of active travellers will emphasise that this is a pro car user initiative as well; otherwise it may be presented as anti-car which it is not!

There is scope for campaigners on this issue to lobby WYCA, councils and businesses, as well as MPs.

Ray Wilkes

Highway Code changes prioritise pedestrians and cyclists

Photo by Jeremy Kwok on Unsplash

A new version of The Highway Code will be published in the autumn, with updates including:

  • Road users who can do the greatest harm will have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others.
  • Strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  • Guidance on safe passing distances and speeds and ensuring that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

More details can be found here.

Climate change – Local Plan consultation

Kirkstall Road, Boxing Day 2015. Photo courtesy of LCC.

Leeds City Council is updating its Local Plan so as to be better able to deal with climate change. They’re focusing on 5 different topics to help them achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The topics are carbon reduction, flood risk, green infrastructure, placemaking and sustainable infrastructure.

According to Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s Executive member for Infrastructure and Climate:

“The Local Plan plays a key role in setting out our city’s planning policies for the long-term future, and we believe that the climate emergency should be at the forefront of our thinking. That’s why we are updating those parts of the Plan as a priority.”

You can find out more about each topic and have your say by completing an online survey. The consultation closes on the 13th September 2021.

E-cargo bikes come to Leeds

Photo courtesy of Leeds City Council.

E-cargo bikes are electric powered cycles with a large storage area, usually placed at the front of the bike, which it’s claimed makes them easy to manoeuvre. The electric motor provides pedal assistance allowing you to travel further with less effort. They make it easier to get through congested areas and cover up to 50 miles on a single charge. They are fully tax deductible for businesses, have no parking costs, minimal running costs and do not require a licence or road tax. Their maximum speed is 15.5mph and they have a range of up to 75km. Organisations based in Leeds can borrow one free for up to 3 months. The council isn’t saying publicly what the cost will be once the 3 months are up. For more information, please email:

Global Road Safety Week

Image courtesy of the World Health Organisation.

From today, the 17th May, until the 23rd May, is the sixth United Nations Global Road Safety Week when we are urged to lobby our elected representatives into pressing for a 20mph speed limit. We are told:

“Low speed streets save lives and are the heart of any community. 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits where people and traffic mix make for streets that are healthy, green and liveable, in other words, streets for life.

We’re calling on policymakers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to 30 km/h (20 mph) where people walk, live and play.

Join the #Love30 campaign to call for 30 km/h speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.”

You can sign the open letter here.

Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy

Artist’s impression courtesy of Connecting Leeds.

The Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy web page contains links to the various parts of the proposed Strategy. These allow you to make comments. The introduction to the Strategy states that it has “Six Big Moves.” These are:

  • Thinking about transport differently
  • Transforming the city centre
  • Opportunities for mass transport
  • Enhancing public transport
  • De-carbonising transport
  • Creating healthier streets, spaces and communities.

You can read more about the proposed mass transit system in this Yorkshire Evening Post article. The council intends that work on the mass transit system should take place between 2030 and 2035.

Sunday the 11th April will be the last opportunity to “have your say” on the Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy.

Planning approval frozen

LCC’s permission for a new terminal has been frozen.

This evening’s 6pm news on Radio 4 reported as follows:

A bid to expand Leeds Bradford Airport has been put on hold by the government. The plan, which has been approved by Leeds City Council, was referred to the Communities Secretary for a final decision. There’s been huge opposition from environment campaigners. This afternoon, Robert Jenrick said he needed more time to decide if another terminal was justified. The decision has implications for other airports, as our environment analyst Roger Harrabin explains: “Leeds council aspires to be one of the greenest in the UK. But when faced with a planning application to build a new airport terminal, it concluded that carbon emissions from aviation are the government’s concern, not the council’s. So it approved the scheme. Environmental protesters urged the government to overturn the decision. And today, an email has informed protestors that the application has now been frozen, until the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has had time to consider it further. No final date was given. No reasoning was given either. But it’s probable that the decision will wait until after the government publishes its decarbonisation strategy for all transport, which is due in coming months. Seven other airports want to expand. And ministers have been told by their advisory Climate Change Committee that there should be no overall increase in flying. By in effect kicking the Leeds decision into the long grass, Mr Jenrick has spared himself the sort of bruising he received recently when he decided not to block an application for a coal mine in Cumbria. After an international outcry, he was forced into a u-turn.”