Calls for a new Leeds airport have been lambasted as “barmy” by councillors in Yeadon.
The ward councillors are warning that careless talk could cost jobs and jeopardise future investment in Leeds Bradford Airport.
They spoke out after it was revealed that discussions were under way over whether a new airport should be built to connect with the proposed high speed rail line and major roads.
Last week Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said a new airport could be needed in the future.
But Yeadon’s Liberal Democrat councillors said they were bemused by the suggestion which seems to have come from Wakefield Council.
Councillor Ryk Downes said: “We are surprised that Labour councillors in Leeds are supporting their Wakefield colleagues. Particularly as we have just agreed that spending on improving the road network round the airport is a priority and the money it would take to build a new airport would be better spent on a rail connection from Yeadon to Leeds and Bradford. The current airport is not ideal but it continues to expand and makes a significant contribution to the local economy, a fact which must not be lost on Coun Wakefield, surely even he must understand closure would be devastating.”
Councillor Sandy Lay stressed that the airport was a major employer in the area and he warned that the loss of local jobs would be significant.
He stressed: “Coun Wakefield should be more careful with his words.
“His careless talk not only jeopardises current jobs and prosperity but places at risk future investment in the airport. After all, who would want to invest in the airport with the ‘shadow’ of a move hanging over it?
“Added to this, the City Council would have to spend millions of our money in effect to buy the existing airport and presumably millions constructing a new one. No wonder Labour has a reputation for financial profligacy.”
Councillor Colin Campbell branded the idea as “barmy”, and warned that if the airport was closed the site would become available for thousands of homes.
“Building between four and five thousand extra houses at the edge of the greenbelt would cause major highways and infrastructure issues for Yeadon and surrounding areas,” he said.
The suggestion has been put forward amid concerns that Leeds Bradford Airport’s location makes it hard to reach and could limit its growth. It is understood talks are at a very early stage.
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box has also called for a new airport to be considered.
Tony Hallwood, aviation development and marketing director at the airport, has said the airport can meet the long-term need for air travel in Yorkshire and can continue to grow at a fast pace.