West of England leaders to formally oppose expansion of Bristol Airport
Leaders of the west region (Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) and North Somerset) are expected to change their minds, and instead of backing expansion of Bristol airport, now oppose it. Metro mayor Dan Norris is tabling a motion at a special meeting on 21st September of the West of England Combined Authority’s (Weca’s) joint committee, which he leads, that would scrap its previous endorsement of the plans. The motion could be carried by a majority vote of the 5 members, so the motion will be carried if Mr Norris (Bristol) and Cllrs Guy (B&NES) and Davies (North Somerset) support it as expected. Cllr Guy said: “Airport expansion is fundamentally incompatible with local councils’ commitment to tackling the climate emergency.” Mr Norris’s motion includes the statements that: There is a climate and biodiversity emergency … The West of England has ambition net zero targets for 2030 …The proposed expansion of Bristol Airport is one of the biggest carbon decisions in the region for the coming decade. And “The Joint Committee resolves: To oppose the latest plans to expand Bristol Airport.”
West of England leaders to formally oppose expansion of Bristol Airport
15TH SEPTEMBER 2021
LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTER POLITICS (Bath Echo)
The region’s leaders are set to make a dramatic U-turn and formally oppose Bristol Airport’s expansion, it can be revealed.
Metro mayor Dan Norris is tabling a motion at a special meeting of the West of England Combined Authority’s (Weca’s) joint committee, which he leads, that would scrap its previous endorsement of the plans.
Labour’s Mr Norris, who succeeded Conservative Tim Bowles at May’s local elections, is calling on the leaders of the four local councils who sit with him on the committee – Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) and North Somerset – to “show moral leadership” on the climate emergency and vote in favour.
It looks set to be approved after B&NES Lib Dem leader Cllr Kevin Guy, who is seconding the motion, and North Somerset Council’s leader, independent Cllr Don Davies, said they would back it.
It is not known how South Gloucestershire Council’s Tory leader Cllr Toby Savage or Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees will vote at the meeting on Tuesday, 21st September.
Both recently championed the airport’s claim at a business breakfast that it would become net zero by 2030, although this does not include aeroplane emissions.
But the joint committee decision will be by a majority vote of the five members, so the motion will be carried if Mr Norris and Cllrs Guy and Davies support it as expected.
This would follow the lead of B&NES and Bristol City councils which passed motions in 2019 and 2020 respectively opposing the expansion.
However, it may have little bearing on the current public inquiry into the airport’s appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against North Somerset Council’s decision to refuse permission for the proposed increase in passengers from 10million to 12million a year.
Mr Norris said: “We are in the midst of a climate and biodiversity emergency. The vast majority of people across North Somerset, Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire know this and are rightly extremely concerned.
“Regrettably some politicians are still to catch up with local public opinion.
“The global pandemic has drastically shrunk the amount of air traffic.
“Meanwhile extreme climate emergency events are seeing super high temperatures, fires, floods and melting sea ice around our fragile planet.
“I believe these deeply concerning phenomena have fundamentally changed the way most of us think about air travel now and in the future.
“We need to remember Bristol Airport has not hit its previous passenger targets. So now is certainly not the time to seek to expand Bristol Airport’s flight numbers even further.
“That is why I am seeking to change the West of England Combined Authority’s official position.
“Our region is justifiably proud we have set ourselves a really ambitious net zero CO2 target by 2030. But unless we show moral leadership now, when it comes to the airport’s proposed further expansion, our net zero objectives will be seen to be a sham.”
He said initial indications were not positive that all four of the region’s council leaders would back the motion.
But Mr Norris said: “I am an optimist and believe people can shift their positions. So I’m calling on the local leaders to show moral leadership and courage and do what is right.”
Cllr Davies said he would “wholeheartedly support” the motion once he had clarification that it referred to opposition of the existing proposed expansion being considered by the planning inspector.
It is understood this will be confirmed at the meeting.
Cllr Guy said: “Airport expansion is fundamentally incompatible with local councils’ commitment to tackling the climate emergency.
“Not only would it increase emissions from flights but travel to the airport is likely to cause traffic chaos due to inadequate public transport options.
“If this expansion were to go ahead, it would render all local efforts to reduce emissions redundant. Every ton of carbon saved would be simply replaced by the airport.
“B&NES Council voted to oppose expansion of Bristol Airport in 2019 and has formally objected to expansion through the planning process. I will be pleased to second the Weca motion next week.”
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “The planning decisions in relation to Bristol Airport are a matter for North Somerset Council.
“We are extremely proud of and will continue to support South Gloucestershire’s world-class aerospace industry.
“It provides many high-quality jobs for the region, as well as investment in new technologies, materials and fuels to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050, in line with our declaration of and commitment to responding to the climate and ecological emergencies.
“Over the coming decades we want our communities to benefit from the high-quality engineering and digital jobs created through the aerospace industry, which will lead to the development of technologies that we will need so that aviation and other sectors can decarbonise.”
The Bristol mayor’s office has been asked for a comment.
Mr Norris’s motion reads: “The Joint Committee recognises:
- There is a climate and biodiversity emergency
- The West of England has ambition net zero targets for 2030
- The proposed expansion of Bristol Airport is one of the biggest carbon decisions in the region for the coming decade
- The pandemic has significantly reduced air travel with a 75.6 per cent drop in passenger numbers in 2020
- Bristol Airport’s role as an employer in the region and the need for a just transition to a greener economy that does not leave workers worse-off
- Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council opposition to current airport expansion and North Somerset Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to expand beyond 10 million passengers a year
“The Joint Committee resolves:
To oppose the latest plans to expand Bristol Airport.”
Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter
Start of Inquiry into refusal by North Somerset Council of Bristol Airport plans to expand by 2mppa
The public inquiry into Bristol Airport’s expansion proposal began on 20th July with the airport hoping to overturn North Somerset Council’s decision to refuse the expansion plans in February 2020. The inquiry is overseen by the Planning Inspectorate, and is scheduled to run until mid-October with three independent inspectors appointed to consider the airport’s appeal. The airport wants to be allowed to have an extra 2 million annual passengers, from 10 million to 12 million. In its recently-published Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP), the DfT committed itself to achieving net zero within the aviation sector by 2050. Allowing airport expansion scheme is not going to help with that – quite the reverse. The worry is that, though the various expansion schemes for Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Leeds Bradford and Southampton – taken separately – look relatively small, collectively (and including Heathrow) the increase in carbon would be huge. The recent TDP does not follow the recommendation from its official advisors, the CCC, that any airport expansion should be offset by reducing flights elsewhere.
Bristol Airport expansion (for 2 mppa more) public inquiry to will start on July 20th, for 10 weeks
The expansion plans would see passenger numbers grow from 10 million to 12 million a year. The public inquiry into the expansion plans is due to start on July 20 and last 10 weeks. The airport appealed against a decision by North Somerset Council last year to reject its expansion plans. Bristol City Council has also opposed the expansion with North Somerset Council saying it will ‘robustly defend’ the appeal. The inquiry will be held in person and online, via Teams, though requests had been made for it to be online only, due to Covid. Campaigners say any expansion of the airport would lead to higher carbon emissions, congested roads and more plane noise. A number of campaign groups including the Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) , the Parish Councils Airport Association and Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) are all set to give evidence at the inquiry. The Planning Inspectorate team will be led by Philip Ware.
Bath and North East Somerset Council rejects Bristol Airport application to increase night flights in summer months
Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected an application by Bristol Airport to increase the number of night flights. The airport wants to increase the number of night flights to 4,000 throughout the whole year, starting in summer 2021. Currently the airport is allowed 3,000 night flights throughout the summer months and 1,000 in winter. The airport wants to be able to move some of their winter allocation to the summer, when demand is higher. Bath and North East Somerset Council rejected the application – stating it would have a negative impact on people living in towns near the airport. The request for more flights comes after the council opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport in March 2019. Then in March 2020 North Somerset Council threw out the plans, (which included increasing passenger numbers by an extra two million each year and building more car parks) on the grounds they were “incompatible” with the council’s declaration of a climate emergency. The extra night flights would cause noise nuisance to people in both councils.
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 large 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.