North Somerset MP Liam Fox says airport expansion is 'hard to justify'
PUBLISHED: 17:35 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:35 06 February 2020
North Somerset's MP Liam Fox has broken his silence on Bristol Airport's controversial expansion plans.
In a letter to North Somerset Council's chief executive officer Joanna Walker, Dr Fox said the airport's expansion plans were 'hard to justify.'
Although he praised the airport for being a 'great amenity', he said it could not be allowed to expand indefinitely and doubts the expansion would benefit the local economy and roads surrounding the site, which he says is 'already struggling' to cope with traffic.
The former business secretary also said improved rail links from Bristol to London meant people were still more likely to use Heathrow Airport.
Mr Fox declared the most controversial part of the airport's plans to expand, which will accommodate 10 million passengers annually if approved, was the impact on an increased need for parking in nearby towns and villages.
He stated the airport's 'inadequate parking provision' had lead to parking at illegal sites, which the council has found 'difficult and expensive' to police.
Dr Fox said: "If these problems cannot be solved, it is difficult to see how further expansion beyond the current limit of 10 million passengers a year could be justified."
However, the airport said its plans to expand its facilities to accommodate 12 million passengers per year by 2025 would increase the amount of people flying locally, and reduce carbon emissions from those travelling to London terminals from Bristol.
Chief executive officer at Bristol Airport, Dave Lees, said: "Technology is driving performance improvements in the sky, with new aircrafts like the A320neo generating 15 per cent fewer carbon emissions than its predecessor.
"Reducing distances travelled by passengers to and from the airport can have the same positive impact on the ground with new destinations, more frequent flights and improved public transport, we aim to persuade passengers to ditch the drive to London."