Bristol Airport expansion: comments can be submitted on the appeal – 11th Jan to 22nd Feb
Members of the public are being urged to submit their views on the expansion of Bristol airport, to the Planning Inspectorate, ahead of public inquiry this summer. The consultation started on 11th January, and end on 22nd February. The airport appealed against a decision by North Somerset Council to reject its expansion plans which would see passenger numbers grow from 10 million to 12 million per year. The public inquiry heard by an independent planning inspector, would probably last 3-4 weeks, and is likely to start in July. Local campaigners are now getting ready to fight the appeal. They say any expansion of the airport would lead to congested roads, increased noise, loss of green belt, negative impact on the local environment from the proposed growth in flights – as well as the impact on climate change. Campaign group Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) is angry that the airport’s management has been instructed by wealthy owners, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, to appeal the original decision made in March 2020. Bristol City Council also opposed the expansion with North Somerset Council saying it will ‘robustly defend’ the appeal.
Bristol Airport expansion: Appeal process starts today
Members of the public are being urged to submit their views ahead of public inquiry this summer
By Heather Pickstock (North Somerset reporter – Bristol Live)
11 JAN 2021
The appeal process to decide whether a major expansion of Bristol Airport can go ahead starts today (Monday, January 11).
The airport appealed against a decision by North Somerset Council to reject its expansion plans which would see passenger numbers grow from 10 million to 12 million a year.
Campaigners are now readying themselves to fight the appeal.
From today, people will have the chance to voice their opinions on the expansion plans.
Comments will need to be submitted before the deadline of February 22.
A public inquiry heard by an independent planning inspector and expected to last three to four weeks, is due to be held in mid July.
Campaigners say any expansion of the airport would lead to congested roads, increased noise and more pollution from the proposed growth in flights. They also raised concerns on the impact on the environment, climate change and the loss of green belt land for additional parking.
Campaign group Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) – BAAN Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BAANcc/ – says it is angry that the airport’s management has been instructed by wealthy owners, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, to appeal the original decision made in March 2020.
“It’s a big slap in the face for the local communities who fought hard and overwhelmingly voiced their opinion on the airport’s expansion plans,” said Stephen Clarke, who is a member of BAAN’s coordinating committee as well as a Green Party Councillor in Bristol.
Bristol City Council has also opposed the expansion with North Somerset Council saying it will ‘robustly defend’ the appeal.
BAAN spokesman Richard Baxter said: “Here we go again.
“We are back campaigning to oppose the plans of an arrogant airport management but we are fired-up because we know we have the science on our side as well as the views of the local community.
“We fully welcome Bristol City Council’s recent decision to oppose the expansion which puts pressure on the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to follow suit now that two of its three constituent authorities have decided to withdraw their support for the airport’s plans.
“Our spirits have also been boosted by the excellent response from groups, businesses, parishes and individuals to the airport’s revised Environmental Statement that it had to submit following the effects on the aviation business resulting from the pandemic.
“Over 96% of those who commented objected to the statement put forward by the airport and it just goes to show the strength of negative feeling towards this horrendous proposal.”
BAAN has applied to become a party to the inquiry which means it will be recognised as an official group with its own appointed technical experts and legal team.
Money has been crowdfunded to cover the costs of the action.
Stephen Clarke added: “The result of this appeal will have real consequences for the aviation industry as there are over 20 regional airports around the UK that have plans for growth.
“The science is clear.
“We have to cut carbon emissions in every sector of society, so it seems wholly incompatible for the aviation industry to be proposing a massive increase in flights that will pump CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”
Region’s leaders in crunch talks over Bristol Airport expansion
West of England Combined Authority has been deluged with calls to reverse its support for the plans
By Adam Postans, Local democracy reporter (Bristol Live)
29 JAN 2021
Urgent talks will be held among the region’s council leaders and mayors after campaigners inundated them with demands to abandon support for Bristol Airport’s expansion.
Protesters want the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) to abandon its support for the expansion because two of its three constituent local authorities – Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset – are now publicly opposed to it.
Almost 150 statements and 24 questions on that topic alone were submitted to Weca committee’s public forum on Friday (January 29), with a succession of speakers pleading with members to change the combined authority’s stance.
They were told by metro mayor Tim Bowles and B&NES Council leader Cllr Dine Romero that discussions would take place to thrash out Weca’s official position.
In 2019, B&NES Council lodged a formal objection to the planning application to increase the airport’s capacity from 10million to 12million passengers a year and add thousands more car parking spaces.
Bristol City Council, which had previously expressed support, made a U-turn last month when full council passed a motion opposing the development because it was “incompatible” with the region’s carbon goals and “must not go ahead”.
As it stands, South Gloucestershire Council and the combined authority itself are in favour, with the area supporting thousands of aviation jobs, including industry giants Airbus and Rolls Royce.
North Somerset Council planning committee rejected the proposals last February, and the authority’s leader Cllr Don Davies told Friday’s Weca meeting it would “robustly defend” the decision when the airport’s appeal against refusal is heard at a public inquiry in the summer.
Jackie Head, one of the public speakers, told the committee: “You have a moral duty to represent the members of Weca.
“Among your ranks now there are more people against the airport than for it.
“I am calling on you as Weca to use any methods you can – the emergency powers of Covid if need be – to reverse your decision, to comment on the consultation that is now in place, in order to represent truly your area.”
Mr Bowles said: “Bristol Airport expansion is not an agenda item for today’s meeting, therefore we won’t be taking discussions on that.
“What I can assure everybody, though, is that as the mayors and leaders we are discussing this.
“We will be meeting to talk about the points that people are making and we will then look to come back and make some comments in the future.”
Cllr Romero said: “We will absolutely be discussing this between us as mayors and leaders and coming to a conclusion.”
The talks, between Mr Bowles, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, Cllr Romero, Cllr Davies and South Gloucestershire Council leader Cllr Toby Savage, would have to take place imminently ahead of the deadline for comments to be received by the Planning Inspectorate on February 22.
Cllr Davies said: “There is a commitment this will be discussed by mayors and leaders.
“But clearly North Somerset is not part of Weca.
“We decided as a newly elected council to refuse the application, largely driven by people of North Somerset’s views that the airport was big enough in its original capacity.
“As a council we will be robustly defending the appeal.”
After the meeting Weca overview and scrutiny committee chairman and Bristol Green Cllr Stephen Clarke said: “Weca needs to reflect the views of its members.
“B&NES and Bristol are now officially against the expansion plans so Weca must be as well.
“Mayor Bowles should write to the Planning Inspectorate to object on behalf of Weca before the forthcoming deadline of February 22.
“It is very clear that there is very little support for the airport’s absurd plans in the region as we all work hard to do something about the climate and ecological crisis.’
In a written response to several public questions, Weca said: “The combined authority was a statutory consultee to the original planning application in our role as a neighbouring local transport authority and it was in this capacity that we submitted a response at that time to North Somerset Council.
“As transport authority, we continue to work with North Somerset Council and Bristol Airport in improving public transport access to the airport and to deliver the joint ambition to substantially reduce carbon emissions from surface transport access to the airport and the wider region.
“The combined authority has recognised the critical need to address the impact of climate change and formally declared a climate emergency in July last year.
“We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, and consideration of climate change impacts are being embedded into every aspect of the combined authority’s work and activities.
“Through our local industrial strategy and regional recovery plan we are actively supporting investment in the decarbonisation of aviation with our world-leading firms in the region, with the ambition of being the vanguard of the development of the technology necessary for net-zero aviation, which will help accelerate a reduction in carbon emissions regionally, nationally and internationally.
“A climate emergency action plan has been approved and is now being implemented.”