BOSSES at Leeds-Bradford Airport have refuted allegations that its proposed new terminal will increase flights and emissions, saying it is a step change for supporting the sector and region in reaching emissions targets.

The existing terminal building built in 1965 is due to be replaced as part of plans submitted to create one of the most sustainable airport buildings in the UK.

LBA’s planning application would see the creation of a BREEAM “excellent” rated, sustainable airport facility, that bosses claim will be the only way of achieving on-site carbon net zero targets by 2023.

As part of the airport’s plans, LBA will also support a range of improvements to surface access, including the creation of a new railway station, less than a mile from the airport.

By supporting local infrastructure projects and incentivising airlines to make use of more efficient vehicles and sustainable fuel options, the new terminal will lead to a long-term reduction in carbon emissions.

Chief executive Hywel Rees said: “The submission of these plans embodies a strong long-term commitment at LBA to significantly reduce emissions in the UK aviation sector and the wider Yorkshire region. As technology in aviation improves, we must be ready to host the next generation of flying from a contemporary terminal facility.

“Most carbon in aviation is obviously emitted by aircraft but through advancements in power technology, modern aircraft are about 80% more fuel efficient and 90% quieter than they were in the 1950s, and this will accelerate now as the sector commits to a sustainable future.

"We have seen in recent weeks the government’s new Jet Zero Council back the production of sustainable aviation fuel in Lincolnshire and the successful test of battery electric passenger flights in Bedfordshire. Both of these examples signal that advancements in sustainable flying technology are now making tangible impacts and it’s not unreasonable to expect a sustainable future for aviation in the near to mid-term.

“Innovation in sustainable flying will continue, with the next generation of planes more efficient and cheaper to run, providing airlines with a natural incentive. Aircraft will become cleaner and quieter than ever before on a timescale we might not expect.

“LBA needs to modernise to facilitate this next generation and the only way to do that is to build a new, modern terminal with efficient facilities, helping us to attract and continue to work with airlines that are also committed to working towards a sustainable future.

"LBA is replacing existing infrastructure; not expanding infrastructure."

"Demolishing the old terminal can act as a symbolic separation from the old ways of operating an airport, with LBA becoming one of the most sustainable airport buildings in the UK. I want the wider sector to know that this is a step change at LBA for how we move towards a sustainable future.”

LBA’s planning application seeks consent for a replacement terminal to support its previously outlined roadmap for the demand of 7 million passengers which was part of the 2019 consent. While critics claim that this will double emissions, LBA has outlined in its application that this is not the case.

Mr Rees continued: “In the last five years LBA has reduced its airport emissions by 45% while passenger numbers increased by 24%. This is a clear indicator that we take our responsibilities seriously.

"Increasing passenger numbers does not mean an equivalent increase in flights and we expect to only see an increase in aircraft arrivals and departures from 30,000 to 46,000 per annum, meaning we meet the demand for 7 million passengers in a more efficient way. That, coupled with our clear desire to work with airlines to bring in the most efficient and sustainable aircraft and fuels show how we are actively mitigating against this increase.

“I understand that people will be concerned about what increasing numbers of passengers means, but we have taken every step to ensure there is minimal impact on emissions, noise and road access.”

LBA’s passenger growth is consistent with the Government’s UK Aviation Forecasts 2017 report, which provides UK airports with parameters for growth of passenger numbers. Within this forecast, which references the 2016 Paris Agreement, LBA was issued a low, central, and high growth capacity limit. LBA’s projected demand of 7 million passengers by 2030 sits between the low and central capacity limit, only 100,000 passengers above the low growth scenario.

Under current Government guidance, aviation emissions are not included in Leeds City Council’s emissions strategy and are regulated at an international level. The aviation sector has committed to becoming net zero by 2050.