Campaigners have raised concerns over proposals to extend the airport’s runway by 164 metres.
The news comes as a second public consultation on revised plans has now been launched.
Airport bosses said the mitigation measures in the new plans are “enough” to protect the environment.
They stressed that the airport has become carbon neutral and warned that 2,000 jobs would be at risk if the plans are refused.
But in a statement campaigners from Airport Expansion Opposition (AXO), said: “A ‘carbon-neutral’ airport’ is like ‘fat-free lard’. It’s just not possible. We need to act now on climate change, and lower carbon fuels and electric planes capable of carrying significant numbers of passengers are decades away. The airport says extending the runway isn’t about ‘bigger planes’. But its own figures show that it is about flying many more of the bigger, noisier A320 jets than previously. The result of this is, as the new documents show, over 40,000 extra local people being exposed to aircraft noise .”
As reported, members of AXO opposed to the initial plans last year.
Airport bosses said the pandemic and the collapse of FlyBe hit the business.
Earlier this week, airport director Steve Szalay, said that while last year’s plans were all about growth the new proposals are about survival.
But AXO members said: “AXO does not believe the financial viability of Southampton Airport is in doubt. Even in the face of Covid-19 other airlines are already starting to take up Flybe’s routes. With this happening the airport’s revised economic assessment shows ‘neutral’ financial benefit to our region. Regional connectivity can be maintained with the airport as it currently is.”
But in a statement Southampton Airport said: “The reality is the airlines backfilling FlyBe are still only about 20 per cent of our previous numbers. Smaller aircraft, less passengers, ten routes – where previously we offered up to 30. Sustainability is at the heart of everything that we do, but the simple message is this: without the runway extension, the future of Southampton Airport is hugely in doubt and with that 2000 jobs, affecting thousands of local families.”
Public consultation over Southampton runway extension slightly delayed – and campaigners fight for Marlhill Copse trees
The public consultation through Eastleigh Borough Council over plans to extend Southampton Airport’s runway by 164 metres has been delayed. It was due to start on July 10th, but now the start date is not known – the delay may only be a week or so. The consultation is due to last 30 days. The airport also wants to add 600 more parking spaces to the existing long stay car park. There is a lot of local opposition to the plans, largely due to the noise impact and the extra carbon emissions of more flights. Neighbouring local authorities including Winchester and Southampton councils objected to the scheme. There has already been one consultation, in late 2019, and the airport may make modifications in this second consultation. The final decision will be by Eastleigh Borough Council. The airport bought a small woodland near the airport, Marlhill Copse in 2018. It now wants to fell many of the trees, citing safety concerns. The trees in fact would only be a potential safety concern if the airport is allowed to expand. Three trees have already been felled, on the pretext of “good forestry management”. Campaigners are trying to get this tree felling and tree height reduction stopped.
Southampton Airport expansion plans go to second consultation – no date yet set
The airport plans to extend the runway by 164m to allow for larger 190-seater aircraft, and more flights. It wants to double the number of passengers. Its plans will go to a second public consultation, by Eastleigh council, before a decision is made. Environmental campaigners and two neighbouring councils, Southampton and Winchester, have raised concerns over noise and air pollution. The airport makes the usual statements about lots of new jobs, and local economic boost (in reality, more of the passengers will be people in the area taking holidays abroad, taking their leisure money out of the UK). Local group, AXO, Airport Expansion Opposition, has been leading opposition to the plans. A final decision is expected to be made by Eastleigh Borough Council, but everything is held up by the Covid pandemic, and no date has been set. The council said: “We are awaiting amended information in support of the application. Once we have received this, we will undertake a full re-consultation on the proposed runway extension.”