PRESSURE is mounting on Leeds Bradford Airport amid fears that it is trying to ditch the limits on night flights.

Both charity leader Katie White, who received an OBE in 2013 for services to climate change engagement, and Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel have written separately to Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) CEO Vincent Hodder calling for transparency about the plans.

LBA applied for a series of certificates of lawful development from Leeds City Council earlier this month, which effectively asked for confirmation it’s allowed to run supposedly quieter planes at night.

It comes just three months after bosses had to apologise for breaching its quota of night-time flights during the 2022 summer season.

Campaigners fear the latest move could result in “unlimited” night-time flying if the certificates are issued, but the airport denies this is and insists it’s only trying to “clarify” what rules it is bound by.

Mr Sobel said: “I acknowledge the widespread interest and concern among local residents regarding these applications, I attribute this concern to the lack of public warning and the absence of an opportunity for public comment or democratic decision-making by councillors in the application process.”

One of the main concerns expressed by Mr Sobel and his constituents in Leeds North West and neighbouring areas is the potential bypassing of more extensive planning processes that typically include public consultations. This concern is particularly relevant in the context of potential changes to night flights at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Mr Sobel added: “We must have clarity on providing a clear and straightforward explanation in plain language about the airport's objectives, the rationale behind choosing this specific process, and how the airport intends to engage with nearby communities.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure that any decisions made regarding night flights at Leeds Airport are aligned with the best interests of the community.”

Mr Sobel acknowledges the controversial nature of the issue of summer night flights in Leeds North West and stresses the importance of ongoing dialogue to address the concerns of his constituents.

In her letter to Mr Hodder, which has also been signed by several councillors from the Horsforth and Otley areas covered by flight paths, Ms White wrote: “Night flying has become a very contentious issue locally.

“We note that having only recently (June of this year) received an apology from you for breaching planning conditions, residents are incredibly concerned about the recent “clarification” which it is believed may lead to a consistent increase in night flights.

“We understand you are proposing that night flying is just for quieter planes. Can you clarify which of the current planes that fly out of Leeds Bradford airport will not meet the criteria for “quieter” planes?”

There’s been criticism of the way the airport has approached the matter. Campaigners have said LBA should have submitted an application to vary its planning conditions, which would have allowed members of the public to comment ahead of a decision.

The letter added: “We further note that the developer has failed to apply to vary the relevant planning conditions but rather sought to do so in effect, but via a different route, namely a certificate of lawful use.

“We are concerned that this route seeks to circumvent important procedural safeguards in planning law and query its legality.”

The council has said it legally has to make a decision on whether or not to approve the certificates by November 1.

In response, Vincent Hodder released his own open letter saying: “It is not LBA’s intention, nor has it submitted, any application or proposal for increased or unlimited night flights.

“I understand that the incorrect and misleading information and statements made has caused understandable concern in our local community.”

He said the airport had prepared a Q&A to answer questions in greater detail which is now on the website.

Mr Hodder added: “Contrary to speculation, LBA is not seeking to change the planning conditions that apply to the airport. The CLEUD applications will provide a determination and clarify how the existing planning permission, written nearly 30 years ago, should operate. This will allow LBA to ensure that it remains compliant with the conditions in a complicated and changing landscape.”