CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed Leeds Bradford Airport’s withdrawal of five applications that they say could have resulted in more night flights.

LBA applied to Leeds City Council in September for a series of certificates of lawful development (CLEUD), which it said at the time was an effort to “clarify” the rules around whether or not supposedly quieter aircraft can fly to and from the site at night.

But although the airport has withdrawn the five applications, it has submitted four new ones - and the campaigners have vowed to fight on.

Airport Chief Executive Officer Vincent Hodder said in an open letter: “Due to queries raised during the process in relation to the accuracy of LBA's supporting data, LBA has conducted further data analysis.

“This has not changed the substance of the CLEUD applications but has led LBA to withdraw its original five CLEUD applications, and replaced them with four new applications, supported by a new statement and additional flight data.

“This additional information adds further clarity and fact-based evidence to the statements made in the original CLEUD applications. It provides LCC with more historical data to enable LCC to make a fully informed and robust decision on the four CLEUD applications.”

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has welcomed today’s announcement and says it will carefully assess the new applications.

The campaigners applauded Leeds City Council issuing a call for evidence when the original applications were made, as that allowed GALBA to provide important information to the Council.

They have also called on the Council to open a new consultation process so that the public can respond to the new CLEUD applications.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “We were always confident that LBA’s CLEUD applications should be thrown out. It looks like the airport agrees with us! LBA’s boss has consistently shown that he cannot be trusted to stick to the night flight rules. Now it turns out his CLEUD applications were misleading and a waste of Leeds City Council’s time and money.

“However, we are aware that LBA has submitted four new CLEUD applications. There is a lot of information to analyse and that’s exactly what we will do. GALBA will not give up our fight to protect the health of people living under the flightpath and we will do everything possible to protect our climate.

“On the same day that world leaders at the COP28 conference announced they would take steps to reduce climate damaging greenhouse gases, LBA announced yet another attempt to increase those gases. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel said: “I am concerned that Leeds Bradford Airport did not have confidence enough in their own application especially after my warnings and have withdrawn and submitted new applications.

“I will oppose any attempt to extend the airport’s ability to schedule flights and weaken accountability of flights. I always said the Certificates of Existing Lawful Development (CLEUD) applications were not fit for purpose and feel vindicated but will be closely scrutinising the new application and listening to the voices of concerned residents.”

This follows Mr Sobel writing to David Feeney, Leeds City Council's Chief Planning Officer, expressing serious apprehensions regarding the potential ramifications of granting these certificates which could mean more flights with the council less able to scrutinise.

He urged Leeds City Council to scrutinise these claims thoroughly and assess the potential implications of the proposed alterations on the airport's surroundings.

Mr Foren of GALBA added: “We call on Leeds City Council to open a new consultation process that allows enough time for the public to read and respond to LBA’s new applications. The time allowed for consultation should take into account the Christmas holiday season. The public should not be stymied by new applications being made just before the Christmas break.”

Mr Hodder said that interested parties can see the new applications, as well as a question-and-answer page, at the airport’s website

He said: “In the same interests of full disclosure and transparency as set out in my previous letter, our new application statement (covering all four CLEUD applications) can be viewed on our website along with an updated Q&A which provides greater detail on the statement and data submitted.”