Bristol Airport's appeal process commences

Members of BAAN with a banner.

Members of BAAN with a banner. - Credit: Mary Collett

Campaigners are readying themselves to fight the appeal launched by Bristol Airport to overturn its rejected expansion plans.

The airport wants overturn the decision made by North Somerset Council last March which rejected its plans to expand its passenger numbers to 12 million people per year, up from its current capacity of 10 million passengers. 

The appeal process started on Monday and will eventually be heard by an independent planning inspector during a four-week public inquiry which is scheduled for mid-July. 

Members of the public will have an opportunity to voice their opinion on the airport’s appeal with a deadline for comments set for February 22.

Members of BAAN with a banner.

Members of BAAN with a banner. - Credit: Mary Collett

Members of the campaign group Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) are angry that the airport’s management has been instructed by its owners, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, to appeal the original decision made last March.

Stephen Clarke, member of BAAN’s coordinating committee as well as a Green Party councillor in Bristol, said: “It’s a big slap in the face for the local communities who fought hard and overwhelmingly voiced their opinion on the airport’s greedy expansion plans."

Last month airport bosses said the airport 'still needs to expand'.

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Documents submitted ahead of the hearing reflected on the impact coronavirus is having on the aviation industry.

The documents said there remains an 'acute need' to provide additional capacity at Bristol Airport, and failing to expand 'would constrain investment at the airport, see economic activity displaced from the South West, act as a barrier to overseas investment and result in a reduction in regional connectivity'.

An artist's impression of the pedestrianised forecourt at Bristol Airport. Picture: Bristol Airport

An artist's impression of the pedestrianised forecourt at Bristol Airport. Picture: Bristol Airport - Credit: Archant

A Bristol Airport spokesman said:  “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 as the UK completes its departure from the European Union – increasing aviation capacity is essential in delivering this goal.“

More than 83 per cent of people who submitted a comment on the original application website objected to the plans for growth, stating reasons including congested roads, increased noise and more pollution from the growth in flights proposed. 

The threat to the natural environment was also a big concern with the loss of greenbelt land for additional car parking and the serious increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which would contribute to climate chaos. 

BAAN believes the appeal is totally unnecessary and the airport is already big enough.

Protesters gathered to demonstrate against Bristol Airport's appeal plans. Picture: Nick Page Hayman

Protesters gathered to demonstrate against Bristol Airport's appeal plans. Picture: Nick Page Hayman - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

Richard Baxter of BAAN said: “So here we go again. We are back campaigning to oppose the plans of an arrogant airport management but we are fired-up because we know we have the science on our side as well as the views of the local community. 

"We fully welcome Bristol City Council’s recent decision to oppose the expansion which puts pressure on the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to follow suit now that two of its three constituent authorities have decided to withdraw their support for the airport’s plans. 

"Our spirits have also been boosted by the excellent response from groups, businesses, parishes and individuals to the airport’s revised environmental statement that it had to submit following the effects on the aviation business resulting from the pandemic.

"More than 96 per cent of those who commented objected to the statement put forward by the airport and it just goes to show the strength of negative feeling towards this horrendous proposal.”

BAAN has applied to become a party to the inquiry which means it will be recognised as an official group with its own appointed technical experts and legal team. Money has been crowdfunded to cover the costs of this venture.

Cllr Clarke added: “The result of this appeal will have real consequences for the aviation industry as there are over 20 regional airports around the UK that have plans for growth. The science is clear. 

"We have to cut carbon emissions in every sector of society, so it seems wholly incompatible for the aviation industry to be proposing a massive increase in flights that will pump CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

To submit a comment, email leanne.palmer@planninginspectorate.gov.uk and quote the case number 3259234.

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