Bristol Airport campaigners send video to Canadian teachers over expansion plans

Environmentalists trying to stop the expansion of airports in Bristol, London City and Copenhagen have stepped up their campaign  – SOFAX (Stop OTPP Funding Airport Expansion) – with a direct message to the people who ultimately own all those airports – teachers in the Canadian province of Ontario. They have their pensions in the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – or OTPP.  See the video (6mins 30)The campaigns from Bristol, around London City Airport and 3 others around Europe, are directing their campaign at the 329,000 teachers and former teachers who work or worked in state schools in Ontario. They pay money into the OTPP, which years ago bought airports including Bristol and London City, as money-making investments. Both airports are trying to expand, increasing flights and carbon emissions. The new campaign has been organised by the UK’s biggest teachers union – the NEU – along with community and medical campaigners who live around the five airports owned or part-owned by OTPP. SOFAX is appealing to pensioners of OTPP to consider the local health and educational impacts of airports on children, as well as the climate impacts – making life in coming decades more uncertain.
.

 

Bristol Airport campaigners send video to Canadian teachers over expansion plans

There are 320,000 teachers or retired teachers in Ontario with a direct link to Bristol Airport

3.8.2022 (Bristol Post)

Environmentalists trying to stop the expansion of airports in Bristol, London and Copenhagen have stepped up their campaign with a direct message to the people who ultimately own all those airports – teachers in the Canadian province of Ontario.

A new international alliance has been forged, uniting campaigners in Bristol with local residents living around London City Airport and three others around Europe, to direct their campaign at the 329,000 teachers and former teachers who work or worked in state schools in Ontario. They pay money into a pension fund, which years ago bought up airports including Bristol’s as an investment.

See the 6 minute 30 second video on YouTube of the SOFAX message to Canadian pensioners.

But now, Bristol Airport’s plan to expand its terminal buildings and its capacity from nine million passengers a year to 12 million has triggered a huge battle that has seen Greta Thunberg, Government ministers and local residents get involved. The new campaign has been organised by the UK’s biggest teachers union – the NEU – along with community and medical campaigners who live around the five airports owned or part-owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – or OTPP.

Read more: Teachers across Atlantic ‘don’t want their money spent’ on Bristol Airport expansion

The OTPP entirely owns Bristol Airport, and has stuck to its expansion plans. After the planning application was turned down by councillors in North Somerset, it appealed and won, convincing a Government planning inspector to approve the plan. Now, environmentalists are challenging that decision in court.

Bristol teacher Loz Hennessy said teachers in Ontario may not know what happens with their pensions, so the video letter to them has been created. “Ontario teachers are resisting budget cuts and ever-increasing workloads: many of the same issues we face in the UK today,” said Loz Hennessey. “We stand in solidarity with their struggle and see it as related to the fight against airport expansion. What are we prioritising?

“Uniting under the banner SOFAX (Stop OTPP Funding Airport Expansion), we have launched a video to raise awareness of where Ontario teachers’ pensions are invested. By funding airport expansion, teachers’ pensions are unwittingly causing unacceptable damage to the global climate and to the health and quality of life of local people,” he added.

Climate campaigner Tanguy Tomes added: “We know teachers in Ontario are worried about climate change. Some have even campaigned on this issue before, so SOFAX seeks to build on those efforts. The Pension Plan’s claim to be a responsible investor is completely incompatible with its commitment to expanding airports across Europe,” he added.

The financial managers running the pension plan have defended the expansion of Bristol Airport. The last time campaigners reached out to teachers in Canada over the expansion plans, before last year’s planning appeal, a spokesperson for OTPP said while they take on board the views of teachers, their priority is ‘retirement security’ for members.

“We value and consider the feedback we hear from our 329,000 members, but our decision-making is guided by our mission to deliver retirement security for our members while creating a positive impact for our partners and the communities where we operate,” a spokesperson said.

“We believe the expansion of Bristol Airport is consistent with that mission and can create sustainable value for our members and Bristol Airport’s stakeholders, including employees, customers, and local communities.

“We note that Bristol Airport’s plans include a roadmap to become carbon neutral for direct emissions by 2025 and a net-zero airport by 2050. These targets align with measures we are implementing to achieve net-zero at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan by 2050.”

A Bristol Airport spokesperson said: “The plans to expand capacity at the airport will offer passengers more routes and flights from the South West directly, create jobs, facilitate inward investment and inbound tourism, and support greener and more sustainable, regional economic growth.

“Sustainable development has always been at the centre of Bristol Airport’s plans. The expansion proposals sit alongside a roadmap which sets out how the airport will achieve its ambition to become carbon neutral for direct emissions by 2025 and a net zero airport by 2050.

“These aims align with measures being implemented by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to achieve net-zero by 2050.

“As the UK emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic it is essential that all regions of the country are given the opportunity to grow to their full potential and contribute to the national recovery effort. International trade and connectivity will become increasingly important in a post-COVID-19 and post-Brexit world – increasing aviation capacity is essential in delivering this goal,” she added.

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bristol-airport-campaigners-send-video-7418000

 


INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE LAUNCHES SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN WITH ONTARIO TEACHERS TO STOP AIRPORT EXPANSION

2.8.2022

From  Stop OTPP Funding Airport Expansion (SOFAX)

The UK National Education Union (NEU) has today – in alliance with community and medical campaigners from around five European airports owned or part-owned by the giant investment firm: the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) (1) – launched a solidarity campaign aimed at teachers in Ontario, Canada.

HACAN East, which gives a voice to residents impacted by London City Airport, is part of the Alliance. London City is currently consulting on proposals to increase passengers numbers by 3 million a year, operate flights on Saturday afternoon and evenings for the first time and increase flight numbers in the early morning and late evening.

Uniting under the banner SOFAX (Stop OTPP Funding Airport Expansion) (2), the group has launched a video (3) to raise awareness of where Ontario teachers’ pensions are invested.

By funding airport expansion, teachers’ pensions are unwittingly causing unacceptable damage to the global climate and to the health and quality of life of local people.

Bristol Teacher Loz Hennessy said: “Ontario teachers are resisting budget cuts and ever-increasing workloads: many of the same issues we face in the UK today. We stand in solidarity with their struggle and see it as related to the fight against airport expansion. What are we prioritising?”

Climate campaigner Tanguy Tomes added: “We know teachers in Ontario are worried about climate change. Some have even campaigned on this issue before, so SOFAX seeks to build on those efforts. The Pension Plan’s claim to be a responsible investor is completely incompatible with its commitment to expanding airports across Europe.” (4)

This campaign follows hot on the heels of a public letter putting pressure on OTPP to act to stop expansion at all airports where it has investments (5). It also delivers on the climate motion recently passed by the NEU (6).

Campaigners are asking teachers and school workers in Europe to reach out to SOFAX to organise ‘phone-banking’-style events to reach Canadian schools. The pressure on OTPP will continue to ramp up over the coming months.

ENDS
Notes for Editors:

(1). Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) owns Bristol and London City airports and has a stake in Birmingham, Brussels and Copenhagen airports.

(2). Stop OTPP Funding Airport Expansion (SOFAX) is an alliance of community campaigners, medical professionals, and school workers represented by the NEU’s Climate Network. Campaigners in the video include Bristol Airport is Big Enough (BABE), Bevar Jordforbindelsen, MedAct Bristol, and HACAN East.

(3). https://youtu.be/W1kcIp4b6uY

(4). Airport expansion increases carbon, air, and noise pollution. Near many airports, noise levels are already regularly above safe levels, including at schools. The climate emissions from additional flights are significant and rarely accounted for by the airports themselves.

(5). The campaigners’ letter (here) was sent to coincide with the company’s annual meeting and was posted on to the front door of its London headquarters and to its offices in Toronto.

(6). The National Education Union (NEU) passed Motion 16 at the 2022 NEU annual conference, see press release here. For further information on this motion, contact bristolneuclimate@gmail.com

For further information contact sofax911@protonmail.com HACAN East Chair, John Stewart, on 07957385650

.


See earlier:

High Court hearing granted on the Bristol Airport expansion ruling

Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) campaigners have been given permission to go to the High Court to appeal against the expansion of Bristol Airport.  The date is still to be set.  A judge has decided that BAAN raised arguable grounds following the Planning Inspectorate’s (PI) decision to permit expansion of annual capacity, from 10 to 12 million passengers.  The airport will continue to fight for their expansion. Government planning inspectors granted permission for the expansion plans, on appeal in February, after the plans were rejected by North Somerset Council in 2020 on environmental grounds.  These include far higher carbon emissions, more noise, more air pollution and more road traffic. BAAN has raised more than £20,000, through crowd funding, to pay for legal costs to support its appeal.  Stephen Clarke, from BAAN, said: “The idea that airports can just continue to expand without limit, in the middle of a climate and ecological crisis, is so obviously wrong. We are delighted that the judge agrees we have arguable grounds that the inspector’s decision has errors in law and we look forward to the full hearing.”  If the court rules in favour of BAAN, then the PI will have to reconsider its decision.

Click here to view full story…

Bristol Airport expansion decision to be taken to High Court by local campaigners, BAAN

On 2nd February the Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal by Bristol airport against refusal by North Somerset Council, for the airport’s expansion plans – that would allow it to increase its capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year. Now the campaign group, Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN), is taking the battle to the High Court. They have raised more than £20,000 to appeal the Planning Inspectorate’s decision. BAAN believes the expansion will be damaging for local people and the environment, citing a rise in road traffic, increased noise and air pollution and an “inevitable rise in carbon emissions”. The Planning Inspectorate said at the time it recognised the “major disappointment” campaigners would have, but the considered economic benefits would outweigh the harm to green belt land. But North Somerset Council will not pursue a legal challenge to the ruling, fearing they would lose and there would be an unacceptable cost to ratepayers.  A legal challenge through the High Court can only be successful if the inspectors can be shown to have erred in law, and currently the UK has “no policy which seeks to limit airport expansion” nationally, or on aviation carbon. 

Click here to view full story…

 

Bristol Airport expansion allowed by Planning Inspectorate, on appeal – called “devastating” by opponents

The 36-day public inquiry into Bristol Airport’s proposal to expand from 10 to 12 mppa, and add thousands more car parking spaces, took place in September and October 2021. Now the Planning Inspectorate have announced their decision to allow the appeal by the airport against refusal by North Somerset Council. This has been condemned as devastating by opponents and extremely disappointing by local councillors. North Somerset Council leader Don Davies said the decision “flies in the face of local democracy”.  His authority had given sound planning grounds for refusing permission in February 2020, and warned that the detrimental effect of the airport expansion of the airport locally – as well as the wider climate impacts – outweighed the narrower benefits,  which would be almost entirely the commercial interests of the owners, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan..  The plan to expand the airport was opposed by thousands of residents, as well as Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority. Don Davies said the council is seeing if there are any grounds for challenging the PI ruling.

Click here to view full story…

.

.

.

.