TODAY, three West Yorkshire teenagers will hand-deliver a petition signed by over 54,000 people to the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, on behalf of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA).

The petition asks Mr Jenrick to ‘call in’ controversial plans to expand Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) and hold a public inquiry. Naomi Simpson, 17, of Wakefield, Martha Dacombe, 17, of Ilkley and Brannoc Stevenson, 18, of Leeds will hand in the petition to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in London this afternoon. The teenage campaigners say airport expansion would undermine the UK’s chances of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and damage the government’s credibility as a climate leader, in the same year that it hosts the COP26 international climate conference.

LBA’s planning application was approved by Leeds City Council on March 22 but GALBA wrote to Robert Jenrick asking him to hold a public inquiry into the expansion plans. MPs from Labour and Conservative parties have supported the call for a public inquiry. On April 6, Mr Jenrick postponed making a decision on this request, giving no explanation or timescale.

Naomi Simpson said: “The climate crisis is real and we urgently need to cut greenhouse gases. Allowing the airport to expand would take us in completely the wrong direction. It’s my generation who will suffer the worst effects of climate breakdown so I’m standing up for our future. I’ve been let down by politicians in Leeds, now I’m asking Mr Jenrick to do the right thing and hold a public inquiry.”

Martha Dacombe, of Ilkley, said: “This is not just about Leeds Bradford Airport. We’re on the brink of climate and ecological breakdown, yet airports throughout the country are trying to expand. Approving LBA’s application would open the floodgates of expansion at other airports. Like Greta Thunberg always says, we must listen to the science - and the scientists on the Climate Change Committee say we must stop all airports from expanding. I really hope Mr Jenrick listens to them.”

Brannoc Stevenson, of Leeds added: “We have a real opportunity to make the right decisions today to build a better tomorrow. The good news is that we can invest in green jobs that will help us recover from Covid, fight the climate crisis and create a safer future - all at the same time! That’s the kind of job I want.”

Last week, GALBA joined a network of 16 national and local airport campaigns calling on the government to impose an immediate moratorium on all proposed UK airport expansions.