Report casts doubt on economic case for Bristol Airport’s expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 August 2019

An artist's impression of Bristol Airport. Picture: Bristol Airport

An artist's impression of Bristol Airport. Picture: Bristol Airport

Bristol Airport

A new report has cast doubts on the economic benefits of Bristol Airport’s expansion plans.

The study carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Avonside claims to have found 'concerning inconsistences' with the airport's business case and said it was 'incompatible with inevitable and essential future constraints on air travel because of climate change.'

The report also claims Bristol Airport has 'overstated' the economic benefits the plans would have on the West of England by almost 50 per cent, and in the wider South West region including Wales, by 70 per cent.

The NEF also questioned the methodology used by the airport's advisors, York Aviation, stating that when using standard models used by the Department for Transport to calculate airport usage, traffic at Bristol Airport would only increase to around 8.5 million passengers a year (MPPA), not the 12 million suggested by Bristol Airport with most of the additional traffic coming from 'displaced activity' from other airports which already have spare capacity.

David Worskett, chairman of CPRE Avonside, said: "This study shows one of the principle justifications for expanding Bristol Airport, the claimed economic benefits, is simply not sound.

"Nor can the proposals be squared with national and local commitments on climate change.

"To incur all the damage to the greenbelt, the tranquillity of the region, and the levels of congestion and pollution, when the benefits are simply not there would be highly irresponsible.

"Far from enhancing the region's economy the net result would be to harm it.

"It is time to ensure the full environmental impacts of aviation are properly reflected in any new proposals."

Dr Alex Chapman, consultant at NEF, said: "Our analysis identified a number of concerning inconsistencies in the airport's business case.

"We believe these have led to a significant overestimate of the potential economic benefits of the scheme, and a significant underestimate of its potential carbon costs.

"The South West deserves better.

"Indeed, on the findings of our report, and the council's own review, we would expect to see this application rejected."

A spokesman, for York Aviation, said: "Drawing on our extensive experience, York Aviation has provided a robust assessment of the potential economic impact of the proposals for the growth of Bristol Airport to 12 MPPA which is consistent with national guidance.

"We are confident the findings of the assessment represent a credible and realistic forecast of the benefits of airport growth."

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the North Somerset Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the North Somerset Times