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Bristol Airport expansion – why should this matter to us?

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

North Somerset Council rejected a proposed expansion of Bristol Airport in 2020 on climate change and environmental grounds. That decision was later overruled by the Planning Inspectorate. Campaigners went to the High Court which has now ruled that the expansion can go ahead. This would see the airport increase its capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year.

Bristol Airport Action Network argued that planning inspectors were wrong to ignore the increased environmental impact of a larger Airport. However, Lord Justice Lane said expanding the airport would impact the environment but that the decision is for central not local government.

There are no legal controls on cumulative CO2 emissions (and noise) arising from airport expansion and government Net Zero policy is toothless in respect of aviation. Even the Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008, says “there should be no net expansion of airport capacity”.

Why should this matter to us even if Newcastle Airport is not currently embarking on an expansion programme? First: CO2 and other aviation emissions affect the environment and climate and affect us all wherever we live. second: It effectively sets a precedent for disregarding climate change as a key factor in these decisions; third: the decision, if upheld, could herald widespread airport expansion which would be difficult to stop.


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