Bristol Airport expansion plans rejected by North Somerset council by 18-7

North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee has gone against the advice of their own planning officers and have refused permission for Bristol Airport to expand. It has been a “David versus Goliath” battle of local campaigners against the airport, (owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). The airport wanted to expand from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year, with huge carpark and other building. The opposition to the plans was huge, on ground of carbon emissions, as well as noise and general local damage. There were almost 9,000 objections sent in by members of the public, against 2,400 in favour.  Councillors voted 18-7 against the plans, with one abstention. Councillors were persuaded that paltry economic benefits to the airport and airlines were far outweighed by the environmental harm. There would be large land take for the parking, and the extra carbon emissions would make targets of carbon neutrality for the area unachievable. Because the councillors went against the officers’ recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant has six months to lodge an appeal, which would be heard at a public inquiry.



Tuesday Feb 11, 2020

North Somerset councillors went against the advice of their own planning officers as they refused permission for Bristol Airport to expand.

It was a David versus Goliath battle that saw local campaigners come up against the might of the airport, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

The airport’s expansion would have boosted passenger numbers from ten million to 12 million a year, with bosses wanting to build a new car park and transport hub.

The application had almost 9,000 objections from members of the public and 2,400 messages of support; with councillors on Monday evening voting 18-7, with one abstention, to reject it.

The battle is not yet over, however, with airport bosses likely to consider whether to appeal the decision or submit new plans.

A Bristol Airport spokesperson said that they were “disappointed” by the decision of North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee.

They said: “This decision risks putting the brakes on the region’s economy by turning away airlines who want to serve the South West market, shutting the door to international trade and tourism at a time when the UK needs to show it is open for business.

“By preventing Bristol Airport from meeting demand for air travel from within the region it serves, the Council will simply exacerbate the situation which already sees millions of passengers a year form our region drive to London airports in order to fly, creating carbon emissions and congestion in the process.”

Recommending approval, North Somerset officers said the business case for more parking spaces clearly outweighed the harm to the unspoilt land.

But Wrington councillor Steve Hogg said there was a “total imbalance” between the economic benefits that go to the airport, and the burden on residents in terms of health and social costs.

He told the planning meeting: “This will fundamentally damage the relationship between this council and residents for years to come.

“I want to propose in the strongest possible terms we vote against the officers’ recommendation and refuse permission.”

Challenging the officers’ suggestion that local authorities have little control over emissions from airports, Hogg added:: “We have direct control over the future emissions – we do that by turning down this application.”

Councillor John Ley-Morgan seconded the proposal, saying: “How can we achieve our ambition for carbon neutrality by 2030 if we approve this decision?”


A local campaigner said: 

Amazing result. There is now a cooling period for a month plus to let the district councillors consider their vote again!  The vote was 18 refusal and and 7 for expansion which I think will stand as so many.

The Airport  speakers had a direct business relationship with the airport such as York Aviation, sustainable aviation and noise.  No one spoke from Business West and the CBI which I found interesting.

Alex Morss said on Twitter: 
The material reasons for refusal: Some environmental issues were not resolved. Economic benefits did not outweigh env. harm. Adverse effects on health & well being due to noise and emissions. Adverse impacts on climate change and carbon reduction policies…
…Plus: Adverse impacts on biodiversity. Overall objections based on contrary policies and exceptional circumstances. Unacceptable traffic impacts. The need to balance economic advantages with impacts on the community living nearby.
It sounds like this refused bid might now go to appeal or a judicial review. A summing up statement by Cllr Hogg follows…
Cllr Hogg who had proposed the motion to refuse Bristol Airport expansion summed up: ‘the material burden on our shoulders has been almost overwhelming,’ adding: “The robustness of economic benefits are far outweighed by the harm to human health, community and environment…”We must weigh the benefits of this application, which flow towards airport share holders, pension funds, foreign economies and those seeking a cheap holiday in the Med, against the unbearable burdens that will fall on the local and wider communities and the environment.”
FlightFree2020 said:
This is incredible news. Well done to everyone involved in the campaign – you have done an amazing job. Hopefully this will set a precedent for other airport expansion bids. You should all be very proud of yourselves – thank you!

Plan to expand Bristol airport rejected after climate protests

Councillors vote against plan endorsed by North Somerset council officers in decision hailed as ‘historic’

A scheme to expand Bristol airport has been rejected following protests that it would exacerbate the climate emergency, damage the health of local people, and harm flora and fauna.

Officers had recommended that North Somerset council approve the expansion and warned that the authority could face a costly public inquiry if it turned it down.

But following a four-and-a-half -hour meeting in Weston-super-Mare, councillors rejected the expansion plans by 18 votes to seven. Activists called the decision historic and said it would inspire others to reject airport expansion plans.

Don Davies, the leader of the council, said: “What the committee has considered is that the detrimental effect of the expansion of the airport on this area and the wider impact on the environment outweighs the narrower benefits to airport expansion.

“I know some people will be upset by this decision and I am sure that we can reconsider it in future when the airline industry has decarbonised and the public transport links to the airport are far stronger.”

The airport, about seven miles south of Bristol, was last given permission to expand in 2011 from 7 million to 10 million passengers a year. It expects to reach its present permitted capacity by 2021 and wants to increase the number of passengers it can handle to 12 million.

Plans included extending the passenger terminus and plane taxiways. The proposal also featured more than 3,000 extra car parking spaces – much of it in the greenbelt – and major changes to roads around the airport.

The airport, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, argued that expanding the airport would generate an extra £1.4bn to the regional economy over the next decade and directly create hundreds of new jobs.

But more than 8,000 people objected to the expansion, and before the meeting Extinction Rebellion organised a three-day protest with dozens of activists symbolically burying their heads in the sand at a nearby beach.

Extinction Rebellion Bristol@XRBristol

Gets your heads out of the sand! ✈️ Yesterday XR Bristol installed a 3.5 metre ostrich in Weston Super Mare 🏖 which is still less bizarre than .

View image on Twitter

Extinction Rebellion Bristol@XRBristol

Over 100 rebels joined our Ostrich friend by sticking their heads in the sand too 📸 @SimonHolliday and Juanita Mackenzie. Decision to be made on 10th Feb in Weston Super Mare. Make your voice heard by joining us for our next action!

View image on Twitter

Adrian Gibbs, an environmental consultant, told the special meeting of the council’s planning and regulatory committee that the airport would need to plant millions of trees every year to offset the CO2 that would be created by the scheme. He added: “Our house is on fire. To expand an airport is to throw fuel on it.”

Security was tight at the meeting, with placards, glue, loud-hailers and non-religious face coverings all banned. Almost 5,000 people watched the debate live online, with an average watch time of about 27 minutes.

Sarah Warren, the cabinet member for the climate emergency in neighbouring Bath and North East Somerset council, told the meeting the plan was incompatible with the global environmental crisis.

It is not the end of the process. Because the councillors went against the officers’ recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant has six months to lodge an appeal, which would be heard at a public inquiry.