THE DECISION to approve a £150 million overhaul of Leeds Bradford Airport is being slammed as a "one-way flight to climate catastrophe".

The criticism comes from think-tank the New Economic Foundation in the wake of the scheme's approval in principle by Leeds city planners yesterday.

The airport wants a “state of the art” terminal, as well as new parking and access facilities, and has a target of 2023 for opening. LBA hopes the number of annual flights could increase from four million to seven million in the coming decades.

Alex Chapman, senior researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said:“The decision to approve the expansion of the Leeds/Bradford airport is a one-way flight to climate catastrophe.

"The government’s climate advisers are absolutely clear that there should be no ‘net’ increase in aviation unless the industry can show how it can meet the net-zero climate target, which they haven’t in this case. This project could contribute an additional 9m tonnes of carbon by 2050, when the UK should instead reach net-zero emissions.

"The decision is incredibly short-sighted given how the pandemic has severely undermined the business use of air travel, challenging the economic sense behind expanding airports.

"It also exposes the significant incompatibilities of our decision-making systems with our climate and environment goals. Four other airport expansion proposals are currently awaiting a decision and unless they seriously consider the new post-Covid reality and our net zero imperative, such outcomes are inevitable.”

Leeds Bradford Airport has said its plans outline a clear desire to have one of the most sustainable airport buildings in the UK. It says it wants to reduce the risk of increased emissions and meet demand for seven million passengers in a way that benefits the region’s economy and environment.

Andy Clarke, Chairman of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We thank the Plans Panel for all their diligent considerations and we are delighted with their support in principle. If fully approved, our scheme would enable us to become a net zero airport, delivering a much-improved passenger experience and creating thousands of jobs, helping to support our region’s recovery. We look forward to working with officers and hearing the final decision of the committee in due course.”