Public health doctors argue the case against expanding Bristol’s Airport
doctors faced this question in 2006 during the consultation about more flights
and expanded facilities.
economy, the quality of the places we live in, education for our children, the
food we eat, opportunities for safe enjoyable physical activity, a fair and peaceful
society, and so on. So as Public Health specialists we needed to look carefully
at all the issues.
it would create jobs and because everyone supposedly wants to fly more. But the
downside was becoming harder to ignore.
through local communities. This will damage health, wellbeing and education for
a sizeable proportion of those living nearby.
were well backed by evidence.
But we wanted to be certain that we were not overlooking potential positive effects
on health from new jobs, and from more people on low incomes being able to holiday
people on low incomes who are mostly using cheap flights. We also looked carefully
at the reports that had been written on possible economic effects if Bristol Airport
were to expand. These were the Tym Report, carried out for Bristol International
Airport in October 2005, and the Whitelegg Report, done for the Parish Councils
and Friends of the Earth in October 2005. They looked at trends and forecasts,
and made different predictions about economic growth, about jobs at the airport,
in the supply chain for the airport, from inbound tourism, and from construction.
use cheap flights to go away for weekends and holidays.
report were reached by pretty much ignoring the impending energy crunch, oil price
rises, future green taxes, changes in business behaviour to reduce carbon footprints,
and the impacts of recession.
January 2008 after our submission, also seemed to overlook these looming restraints
from the economic impacts of airport expansion were actually very uncertain.
would definitely outweigh the possible benefits. We submitted our conclusions,
from the West of England Public Health Climate Change Group, to North Somerset
Council, on December 18, 2006 as part of the consultation.
prepare for inevitable and irreversible decline in world oil production. The Government’s
Stern Report has also said long-term economic damage from ‘business as usual’
and runaway climate change will be massively worse than the short-term economic
cost of changing to a low-carbon economy.
numbers are down and people are looking closer to home for their holidays.
get us out of the recession. But others say that new jobs must be in sectors
with a future – such as renewable energy, local food production and local recreation.
their own short-term profits. It is their job to try to persuade us expansion
will be good for Bristol.
that expanding the airport will do more harm than good for Bristol people.
Dr Angela E Raffle B Sc (Hons) MB ChB FFPH on behalf of the West of England Public
Health Climate Change Group