Bristol Airport expansion decision due in September
COUNCILLORS have shared their views on the proposed expansion of Bristol Airport ahead of a decision being made by North Somerset Council this month.
by Keri Beckingham
At the end of 2018 the airport submitted plans to boost passenger numbers to 12 million by 2026, enlarge its terminal, create 3,900 more parking spaces through a multi-storey car park, build a bus and coach station and make improvements to the on-site road layout. In addition, it has also requested a change to the seasonal restrictions on night flights, so that by 2026 an additional four flights would be run a night during the peak summer season.
As the airport is not served by trains and the majority of passengers arrive by private car, people living close to the airport have expressed concerns that the expansion would worsen traffic problems in the area. In addition, more than 2,000 objections to the proposals have been received.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Reese has given his support to the plans, stating that they will boost the economy and secure thousands of jobs.
Tom Brook, Labour Co-op Councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down, says that whilst there would be an economic benefit as a result of their airport expanding, especially to south Bristol, he believes residents are right to be concerned about the environmental impact. He said: “Mayor Marvin Rees and the Labour administration in Bristol was the first in the country to declare a climate emergency, and has successfully convinced 435 other councils to do the same. We are also leading the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and have an ambitious carbon neutrality action plan, targeting 2030 for the city to have net zero carbon emissions. Furthermore, we are ensuring that Bristol’s transport network will be clean and low-carbon, for example through our plans for a Clean Air Zone and a mass transit system.
“We should all be trying to reduce our carbon emissions, and that includes flying less, if at all. Whilst expanding Bristol Airport would increase emissions locally, it could also result in fewer emissions in total. Some of the eight million people a year who bypass Bristol when travelling from the South West and South Wales to Heathrow and Gatwick could instead drive/ride less and fly closer to home.
“The decision on whether Bristol Airport can expand is the responsibility of North Somerset Council, not Bristol City Council, and I hope the councillors in North Somerset will take into account all of the facts and figures to make the right, informed choice for the sake of future generations.”
Martin Fodor, Redland ward Green Party councillor, believes that Bristol Airport needs to be more transparent about its ‘carbon neutral’ aims, and that the expansion of the airport does not fit with the climate emergencies that our four local authorities (including North Somerset and Bristol) have declared. He said: “The airport already has permission to grow but is trying to get approval for even more future growth (an extra 23,800 flights a year) which will blow a hole in the region’s climate targets for carbon neutrality.
“The airport also promote the fiction that they can be ‘carbon neutral,’ when what they mean is the building impacts, but not the flights or the travel to and from the airport. This is a wholly discredited and misleading promise.
“It seems they don’t take account of other airports expanding, including Heathrow, or how their operation cannibalises flights from other regional airports, or the way their carbon should be counted and has to be limited within the legally binding targets the government has set.”
James Collett is one of the hosts of Extinction Rebellion Bristol North, and is also concerned about the airport’s aim to be a carbon zero airport. He said: “A group of us recently went to Bristol Airport’s AGM, where they presented their road map to reduce carbon emissions and to be a net zero airport. Although they have a very glossy brochure, it actually just refers to the emissions that they have direct control or influence over, such as the buildings in the airport and a certain amount of the cars they use for the airport grounds.
"There is nothing to do with planes or travel to and from the airport, and in our opinion it’s a fairly misleading piece of greenwash, which we have pointed out. We are concerned about all the extra pollution that the airport expansion will generate, especially as Bristol Airport is virtually the only airports in the country that doesn’t have trains running to it, and 87% of people therefore go to and from the airport by private car, which adds massively to congestion and road pollution.”
To find out more about the expansion plans, visit: www.bristolairport.co.uk/about-us/who-we-are/our-future