Proposal to expand Bristol Airport refused

March 02 2020
Proposal to expand Bristol Airport refused

Bristol Airport chief executive Dave Lees said the decision risks “putting the brakes” on the future growth of the region when other areas are forging ahead. He said the firm will “reflect” and consider whether to appeal or submit fresh plans.

Bristol Airport’s controversial expansion plans have been thrown out. 
The Lulsgate Bottom transport hub wanted to increase its current capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year, while adding thousands more parking spaces.
Refusing planning permission by 18 votes to seven, North Somerset councillors said the environmental and societal impacts outweighed the economic benefits of the expansion. Because the committee went against officer advice, the decision will have to be ratified at a future meeting.  
Bristol Airport chief executive Dave Lees said the decision risks “putting the brakes” on the future growth of the region when other areas are forging ahead. He said the firm will “reflect” and consider whether to appeal or submit fresh plans.  
Councillor Peter Bryant had claimed the airport was likely to win an appeal and the costs to the council would be “astronomical” but authority leader Don Davies rejected those “fright tactics”.  
He said Bristol Airport should come back with fresh plans which show how the two million extra passengers would get to the airport via public transport. 
Calling for the application to be rejected at the special planning and regulatory committee meeting on February the 10th, Cllr Steve Hogg said: “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.  This will either go to an appeal or a judicial review. Either way, public money will be spent. Would you rather spend public money defending the community or facilitating the expansion of a large single business?  We must weigh the benefits – which flow towards the airport, its shareholders, pension funds and those seeking a cheap holiday in the Med – against the unbearable burdens that will fall on the local community and the environment.”  
Cllr Bridget Petty, North Somerset’s climate emergency champion, said the expansion would mean a million more cars on roads that could not cope.
Bristol Airport had claimed its expansion would benefit the West of England’s economy to the tune of £210 million. North Somerset Council’s consultants were more conservative, putting the figure between £110 million and £167 million.  
Supporting the application,
Unite representative Mark Hutchison said the expansion would create thousands of jobs and bring a huge boost to the region. Business owners said the expansion was necessary for them to thrive.
David Worskett from the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the economic benefits for the region had been overstated by as much as 50 per cent – a claim strongly refuted by economist James Brass, who spoke in favour of the plans.  
The application has been met with 8,800 objections and some 2,400 messages of support. 
Cllr Peter Crew said many of the topics raised were not directly related to the planning application, adding: “I can see nothing wrong with the application in planning terms and I am certainly in favour of it.”  
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Davies said: “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.” 

Campaigners delighted at result

Green Councillor for Southville Steve Clarke was part of the campaign against the Airport's plans working with councillors and groups across the region. He said: “This is a fantastic result of hard work and real co-operation among campaigners and residents. It is a real ‘David and Goliath’ story, as on the one side is a £200 billion Canadian pension fund who own the airport, and on the other is a crowd-funded campaign and lots of hard work by ordinary but committed people."
Environmental campaigners and local residents were delighted at the decision to turn down Bristol Airport’s plans to expand to 12 million passengers a year. This would have involved over 20,000 extra flights, severe road congestion, damaging noise pollution and massive extra amounts of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere.
Many members of the local community spoke clearly and emotionally against the expansion plans and there were noisy celebrations at the end of the meeting and Tarisha Finnegan-Clarke, co-ordinator of Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN), one of the key campaigning organisations in this campaign said: “I ask Bristol Airport to accept the result and not appeal against it. 83% of North Somerset residents who commented have objected to the expansion and the planning committee has thrown out the application. Be respectful of the democratic process and do not appeal."