High Court give airport expansion plans a green light

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I am – as you know – Bath-centric, but a lot of people from hereabouts use Bristol Airport and will be interested to know that the High Court has decided to allow expansion plans to go ahead and rejected the appeal from Bristol Airport Action Network to take environmental concerns into account in not allowing further development.

Reaction has come in which l will pass on.

Professor Mike Lewis

Professor Mike Lewis, from the University of Bath’s School of Management, specialises in operations and supply chains, major projects and the route to achieving Net Zero.  

He said “I am utterly dismayed that expansion plans have been given the go ahead by the High Court. I was surprised at the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to support expansion in the first place and hoped the High Court would support the appeal from campaigners at Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) and act with climate change in mind. The UK Climate Change Committee concludes that for Net Zero to be achieved there can be no more than 25% growth in aviation passenger numbers on 2018 levels. Yet, overall planned airport expansions will result in nearly three times this number. 

“The arguments in support of expansion still don’t stack up. Domestic flights – a significant part of the Bristol Airport mix – are particularly problematic from a carbon budget perspective, and more and more organisations are stopping funding them. It’s hard to see the economic case for the expansion given the location of the airport and the limited scope for adjacent development. Connectivity and productivity arguments are relatively weak.”  

Dan Norris

Dan Norris, the WECA Metro Mayor commented: “The deep concerns of local people and the decisions of local politicians have come into head-on collision with national government policy that is not fit for purpose. 

For all their warm words this decision shows the government is not serious about the climate emergency.Lord Justice Lane confirmed today that the expansion will impact the environment but as we know Government policy gives no consideration to the combined impact of airport emissions. 

This must change. We are all seeing the devastating effects of climate change with floods in Keynsham a few weeks ago and record breaking temperatures this summer. So many plants and animals are under threat of being lost forever.”

While from B&NES, Cllr Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, added:

Cllr Sarah Warren

Councillor Sarah Warren, B&NES Cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, responds to the High Court ruling that Bristol Airport expansion can go ahead.

“This is a deeply disappointing result. This decision flies in the face of overwhelming public opposition to further unwarranted and polluting development at Bristol Airport and completely ignores both the climate emergency and democratic decision-making. 

“It exposes local communities to continued and accelerating degradation of their quality of life and wellbeing, and trumpets the power of international investors, working through their lawyers, to work with impunity against the vital interests of the very communities where they take root.

“Local communities, along with almost all local MPs, Local Authorities and civil groups, have been united in calling for this excessive airport expansion to be halted, yet these voices have been overruled, completely undermining local democracy. 

“B&NES opposed airport expansion and we remain steadfast in our opposition. We will continue to fight to protect the interests and wellbeing of our communities who face harm and blighted prospects from these utterly ill-conceived plans. Communities in North East Somerset already suffer from noise, pollution and excessive airport traffic. At the very least, we desperately need mitigation through a deliverable and sustainable transport plan for getting people to and from the airport.

“This outcome emphasises the urgent need for a root and branch overhaul of airport policy at a national level, to bring policy into line with the advice the government has received from its own Climate Change Committee. We need a firm cap on airport capacity, so that planning applications are seen from a national aggregated perspective and not piecemeal, to ensure that increased capacity will only be allowed at one airport if there is a corresponding drop in capacity elsewhere. Any other approach puts in jeopardy and calls into doubt the government’s seriousness in staying true to its legally binding Net Zero targets.

“BAAN, local groups and individuals have shown such courage and integrity in the fight against this expansion. We will work with them, other Councils and partner organisations as we address the inevitable damage and fallout which will come from this decision.”