Plans for a new terminal at Leeds Bradford airport have been put on hold amid widespread criticism from local MPs, residents and environmental groups. The plans were given conditional approval by Leeds city council in February, but yesterday the government issued a direction preventing the council from granting planning permission without special authorisation. The block will give communities secretary Robert Jenrick time to consider whether to call in the application.
The direction – set out in section 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 – will give further time to Robert Jenrick, to consider whether to formally “call in” the planning application.
As secretary of state, he has powers to take the decision-making power on a planning application out of the hands of the local planning authority by calling it in for his own determination (as he has done with the Whitehaven coalmine). If a planning application is called in, there will be a public inquiry chaired by a planning inspector, or lawyer, who would make a recommendation to the secretary of state. Jenrick can reject these recommendations if he wishes and would take the final decision.
According to press reports Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen environmental groups, community groups, MPs, scientists and literally thousands of people, writing directly to the Secretary of State asking for a public inquiry. Thousands more have signed our petition.
“We hope that the delay is a sign that Mr Jenrick is taking those requests very seriously.”
He added: “Leeds City Council has refused to accept responsibility to safeguard the health of our communities, our climate and future generations.
“As a consequence, the ball is in Mr Jenrick’s court. We urge him to take that responsibility and order a public inquiry.”
Supporters of the plans have argued that the airport expansion would boost the local economy by hundreds of millions of pounds and support thousands of new jobs.