11 Nov 2011

Bristol Airport to expand to 10m passengers

I have reported over the years the campaign to stop expansion at Bristol Airport - like many I have submitted a number of reports and letters to try and stop this ridiculous and damaging plan. In the current economic situation with rocketing fuel prices forecast and the implications of climate change the plan is just plain absurd. It makes no economic or environmental sense. It has been quite a while since my last blog on this issue - sadly the latest news is not good.

Do read the full press release from the excellent campaign group, Stop Bristol Airport Expansion, as it outlines why there will be no Judicial Review. Click on read more - the responses by the judge in my view make little sense.  The Government’s new aviation policy will be out for public consultation in the spring. We need a lot more from the Government than well-meaning words – we need solid legislation to regulate noise and carbon emissions.

No Judicial Review on Bristol airport’s plans for expansion to 10 million passengers per year

No doubt you will have heard that on Wednesday 26 October SBAE had an Oral Hearing at the High Court of Justice. We were seeking permission to challenge North Somerset Council’s decision to allow expansion of Bristol Airport to go ahead. The Challenge was taken on two points. Firstly that the 2003 Air Transport White Paper was out of date and did not take sufficient account of climate change and secondly, on the validity of the economic case for expansion. Unfortunately permission to our challenge was refused by the judge, Mr Justice Collins.

Mr Justice Collins ruled that council officers had not misdirected councillors by stating that the White Paper meant that the climate change impacts of aviation did not need to be considered by North Somerset Council. SBAE had challenged this use of the White Paper because this meant there was an extraordinary position whereby the Climate Change Act 2008 and other relevant policies on climate change couldn’t be taken into consideration. Yet the current coalition government’s Secretary of State for Transport has stated: “The previous government’s 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport, is fundamentally out of date, because it fails to give sufficient weight to the challenge of climate change”. The judge recognised that the 2003 White Paper is out of date but as it has not yet been officially withdrawn, considered that it is still the relevant policy to adhere to and made his decision on that basis.

Although this was a very disappointing result, we feel that growth at airports and at Bristol Airport will not be nearly so fast in future. Times have changed to one of slower growth, a weaker pound and higher oil prices. The recent report ‘ UK aviation forecasts August 2011’ from the Department of Transport supports our comments estimating demand at Bristol Airport to be no more than 6 million passengers at 2020 (numbers are currently just below this) and between 7 and 9 million passengers per annum at 2030. After years of 10% per annum growth, it must be quite a shock for the airport to see no significant growth between 2008 and 2020 (it carried 5.7m passengers over the last 12 months, considerably less than in 2008 and only 0.1% over last year's total).

Our job now is to closely monitor the 70 conditions attached to the planning application and continue to highlight the impacts of expansion on local communities, such as increased traffic congestion on country roads and noise pollution, plus a massive rise in carbon emissions from flights, if the airport actually does expand.

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