Legal fight to stop Bristol airport expansion…

Legal fight to stop Bristol airport expansion – public inquiry in July into airport’s appeal against Council refusal
2021-01-04 11:01:00
In February 2020 North Somerset Council rejected (by 18 to 7 votes) the application by Bristol airport to expand its annual number of passengers from 10 million to 12 million. In August, despite the fall in passengers due to Covid, the airport decided to appeal. North Somerset Council says it will make a “robust defence” of its decision, due to the impact on the climate, environment and neighbouring communities.  The appeal will be considered at a 4-week public inquiry due to start in July. The local campaign groups are working with the council on the defence.  in 2011 campaigners launched an ultimately unsuccessful challenge against an increase to the current cap of 10million passengers per year.  The Bristol Airport Action Network is one of the organisations that will speak at the hearing. They say they are not aiming  to close the airport, but just to stop it expanding.  The expansion plans have been strongly opposed, with about 8,900 objections out of a total of 11,500 submissions. The local councils oppose the expansion, and North Somerset pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.  The Committee on Climate Change, in its advice to government on the Sixth Carbon Budget said there “should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory.”  .Tweet     How the legal fight on Bristol Airport’s expansion will play out Campaigners have raised thousands to bolster North Somerset Council’s position By Stephen Sumner (Bristol Live) 4th January 2021 Top legal minds are already preparing the groundwork for a fight over the expansion of Bristol Airport next summer. North Somerset Council has promised a “robust defence” of its decision to reject the scheme to boost annual passenger numbers to 12million due to the impact on the environment and neighbouring communities. The fate of the plans will now be decided at a national level. For many, the fight is not new. A decade ago campaigners launched an ultimately unsuccessful challenge against an increase to the current cap of 10million passengers per year. Unlike last time, the appeal will be considered at a four-week public inquiry due to start in July – allowing campaigners to bolster the council’s position – and the environment is firmly on the agenda. Bristol Green councillor Stephen Clarke from the Bristol Airport Action Network, one of the organisations that will speak at the hearing, said: “There are currently over 20 regional airports thinking about expanding. Bristol Airport is the first to go to a planning appeal. That makes it really important as a precedent. “There are quite a lot of international organisations that are helping us. “We have the money we need to pay for a barrister and we have various experts. We’re putting together our case.” That case will focus on the environmental arguments against the expansion. Bristol Airport said sustainable development has always been at the centre of its plans. It plans to become carbon neutral for direct emissions by 2025 and a net zero airport by 2050, and said it had proposed a “comprehensive package of measures” to minimise the adverse environmental impacts of an additional two million passengers per annum. Cllr Clarke said the aviation industry was relying on technological advances like electric or hydrogen power that may eventually improve fuel efficiency but will not be able to offset the extra 23,000 flights per year. “We aren’t trying to close the airport or even reduce the capacity. We’re saying it’s big enough,” he said. “As a regional airport it shouldn’t be any bigger.” Cllr Clarke said the people of North Somerset were “completely against” the expansion – out of more than 11,500 comments on the application, some 8,900 were objections. Bath and North East Somerset Council voted last year to oppose the expansion. So now has Bristol City Council, after mayor Marvin Rees had publicly given his support, hailing the “huge benefits” the airport’s growth would bring to Bristol and the West of England. Both councils said the expansion was “incompatible” with the climate emergency. North Somerset Council has made the same declaration, pledging to be carbon neutral by 2030. As well as more passengers on more flights, many overnight, the plans also propose extending the seasonal silver zone car park with more than 2,700 spaces for year-round use and the construction of a multi-storey car park. North Somerset Council refused planning permission by 18 votes to seven following a motion from Wrington ward member Cllr Steve Hogg. He told the special planning and regulatory committee meeting on February 10: “We must weigh the benefits – which flow towards the airport, its shareholders, pension funds and those seeking a cheap holiday in the Med – against the unbearable burdens that will fall on the local community and the environment.” Recommending approval, planning officers said local authorities have little control over emissions linked to aviation. But Cllr Hogg said: “We have dire


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