A High Court judge has dismissed a challenge to Bristol Airport’s plans to expand its maximum capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers a year.
The South West transport hub secured planning permission from the government last year on appeal, after councillors in North Somerset had previously rejected its proposals in February 2020. Local residents and environmental campaigners subsequently launched an appeal against the approval.
The airport’s plans include a major investment in its terminal building, parking facilities, and public transport links.
Bristol Airport welcomed the decision to reject the claim on Tuesday (January 31), saying it would help to create 800 jobs across its operations and potentially up to 5,000 regionally, while boosting the South West economy by an estimated £430m.
The airport’s chief executive David Lees said: “The decision is excellent news for our region’s economy, allowing us to create up to 5,000 new jobs, deliver more international destinations for the South West and South Wales, and invest hundreds of millions of pounds improving the customer experience.
“We will do this while working towards our ambitious target of net zero carbon operations by 2030 and we look forward to working with stakeholders and the community to deliver our vision to be everyone’s favourite airport.”
Campaigners outside the court drenched themselves with what appeared to be fake blood following the decision, with a spokesperson for climate activist group Extinction Rebellion saying it was to symbolise the “blood that’s on the hands of those in the so-called ‘justice’ system”.
Bristol Airport said sustainability was “at the heart” of their expansion proposals and it would now push ahead with its multi-million-pound plans for net zero operations by 2030, alongside its work with partners in the region on the development of zero emission flight.
Green Party co-leader and Bristol City councillor Carla Denyer described the decision as “a devastating outcome”.
“Bristol airport’s unnecessary expansion will mean thousands of extra flights which will produce one million tonnes of CO2 equivalents every year, right at the point we most need to be reducing our emissions. Not to mention more traffic, noise and air pollution for local people, and it will risk harming endangered local species. All this in face of clear local opposition.”
Sarah Warren, a cabinet member of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said the “deeply disappointing result” demonstrated the 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.
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