Two people wearing t-shirts that read "Stop Airport Expansion" carry a banner that reads "Bristol Airport is Big Enough".

Campaigners remain vigilant over Bristol Airport expansion

With Bristol Airport facing no further legal challenge to its planned expansion, campaigners say they are keeping their eyes on the airport amid a “lack of trust” the airport will keep to its promises. 

Campaigners say there is a need to be vigilant to ensure Bristol Airport does not overstep the terms of its planning permission to expand, which include limits on the number of night flights, noise and pollution. Bristol Airport is already planning further expansion of passenger numbers to 15 million per year in the 2030s and to 20 million by the 2040s. 

Read more: Protesters warn Bristol Airport “We are watching you!”

The fear of the airport breaking these conditions is heightened by the case of Leeds Bradford Airport where local campaigners exposed the fact that the airport was operating 747 more night flights than permitted, a surplus of 25%. 

Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) and other individuals and groups who have opposed the airport’s expansion over the last four years are planning a demonstration at the entrance of the airport on the A38 roundabout from 6.30pm on Wednesday June 21. 

They will send a message ‘Bristol Airport: We are watching you!’ to both the airport and the airport’s owners the Ontario Teachers Pension Provider. 

Richard Baxter, one of the members of BAAN’s co-ordinating committee, said: ‘Many people in the local community are exasperated and frustrated following the ruling by the UK Court of Appeal that turned down our submission that challenged the legality of the decision by the Planning Inquiry of 2021.  

‘We still feel the decision is vastly short-sighted and ill-conceived on many levels.  The strength of opposition to the growth of the airport and the worries of increased greenhouse gas emissions were completely ignored by the Planning Inspectors and the courts.  Local democracy has been trashed and the impact on the environment was deemed to be inconsequential.  This is putting profit and greed before people and planet.

‘The courts know that the planning laws pertaining to aviation are out-dated and do not take into account the carbon and non-carbon emissions that airport expansion will produce. They also know this at a time when humanity is facing a climate emergency and should be doing everything possible to reduce our emissions. 

‘It is also immoral that the Canadian owners, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, (OTPP) are forcing this expansion on our local area when they are seeing a record number of ferocious forest wildfires cover the eastern coast of North America with thick smog resulting in life threatening and illegal air quality.’

In May, the UK Court of Appeal turned down a submission by BAAN to challenged the decision to expand Bristol Airport from 10 million passengers per year to 12 million, which was granted planning permission by planning inspectors in January 2022. 

The expansion was initially refuse permission by North Somerset Council in February 2021 following a long campaign by BAAN to gather thousands of public objections to the plans. 

BAAN are now working with other campaign groups and organisations opposing the growth of airports to obtain a UK wide moratorium on airport expansion and to get the planning law updated to take into account the effects of greenhouse gas emissions of future developments.

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