A £28 million development of Leeds Bradford Airport has been dealt a blow after planners turned down the first phase of the project.

Airport bosses want to add a two-storey extension to its main terminal to attract five million passengers per year by 2012 – an increase of more than two million.

But a planning panel has refused the application, citing serious concerns about the predicted passenger increases and the impact on the area’s roads and environment.

Planning officers had recommended that Leeds Plans Panel (West) rubber-stamp the proposals, which would include a £2 million roadworks and public transport fund.

But the panel turned down the bid, calling for more detailed road improvement and public transport plans to be drawn up before they could approve any expansion.

A group of anti-expansion protesters had lobbied outside the meeting, which was moved to a larger building as 200 members of the public packed into Yeadon Civic Hall for the hearing.

Coun Stuart Andrew (Con, Guiseley and Rawdon) said: “This application is not just about the terminal building, it’s about expansion too. The big question is how do we get people to the airport? There’s a problem on the roads now. Getting five million people to that airport is a massive piece of work and I think the list (of proposed public transport incentives and road improvement funds) we have in front of us is woefully inadequate.”

Friends of the Earth representative Anthony Rae told the meeting that allowing the extension along with unchecked passenger increases could see the airport’s CO2 emissions by 2050 exceeding, on their own, the emissions target for the whole of Leeds set by the Leeds Climate Change Strategy.

He said: “This is proposing a huge expansion. We’ve looked at the transport assessments and the important road junctions are already at capacity.”

LeedsBradford International Airport’s head of engineering, facilities and projects, Carl Lapworth, had highlighted the benefits the proposals could bring. He said: “The successful regions in the UK are supported by a strong and growing regional airport. This is about delivering improved, professional, efficient airport facilities.

“This is not about a runway extension and not about the principle of growth, which has already been established.

“It’s supported by a wide number of regional and local organisations that represent significant numbers of businesses throughout our region. It’s about safeguarding the 2,200 people directly employed by LBIA currently and the terminal’s development will create new jobs.”

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