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Bristol Airport expansion plans rejected over climate fears

North Somerset Council turned down a planning application to expand Bristol Airport because of environmental concerns.

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Councillors have rejected expansion plans for Bristol Airport (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Councillors have rejected expansion plans for Bristol Airport (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Councillors have rejected expansion plans for Bristol Airport (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Plans to expand a regional airport have been rejected by councillors due to fears over climate change.

Bristol Airport had wanted to boost passenger capacity by two million to 12 million by building a new car park and transport hub.

Councillors on North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee voted 18 to seven, with one abstention, to reject the proposal citing environmental concerns.

Bristol Airport
Bristol Airport wanted to increase passenger numbers to 12 million a year (Ben Birchall/PA)

Council leader Don Davies said: “The airport currently handles just over eight million passengers and can still expand to the 10 million passengers a year limit it already has, so more people will still be able to fly from there and the number of people who work there should not be affected.

“What the committee has considered is that the detrimental effect of the expansion of the airport on this area and the wider impact on the environment outweighs the narrower benefits to airport expansion.

“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.”

Councillors went against the advice of officers to reject the application.

Due to the size of the application, the decision has to be ratified by a future meeting of the planning and regulatory committee.

If the decision is supported, Bristol Airport will have six months to lodge an appeal which would then be heard at a public inquiry.

Departures board
There are fears the decision could harm the South West of England’s economy (PA)

The airport said the expansion would stop millions of people from the region driving to London airports.

“We are disappointed by the decision to recommend refusal of our planning application, contrary to the recommendation of the council’s own planning officers,” an airport spokeswoman said.

“This decision risks putting the brakes on the region’s economy by turning away airlines who want to serve the South West market, shutting the door to international trade and tourism at a time when the UK needs to show it is open for business.

“By preventing Bristol Airport from meeting demand for air travel from within the region it serves, the council will simply exacerbate the situation which already sees millions of passengers a year form our region drive to London airports in order to fly, creating carbon emissions and congestion in the process.”

Over 8,000 members of the public had opposed the application, while 2,400 had written in support of it.

Among the groups against the expansion was the Extinction Rebellion group in Bristol.

Ben Moss, Chew Valley resident and XR member, said: “I feel relief, joy and hope. This feels like total vindication for citizens in Bristol and North Somerset who are concerned about climate change.

“It has been a long campaign, and we are tired but happy that this courageous decision was taken by the planning committee.

“We will use this victory to give us the hope and energy to tackle our next challenge. We are part of turning the tide towards a more environmentally conscious society, where people are coming together to meet the biggest challenge, we all face – the climate and ecological emergency.”

Former Bristol West MP Stephen Williams said: “A brave and right decision by councillors.

“Tough decisions like this will have to be the norm if we are to tackle the climate emergency.”

PA