Now is not the time to expand Bristol Airport, according to the West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris – as he calls on the leaders of the region’s four local councils to back his stance.
The Labour Metro Mayor will propose a motion, seconded by B&NES Council’s Lib Dem leader Kevin Guy, at a special meeting of the West of England Combined Authority’s Joint Committee which he leads.
The meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday (21st September), will call on all four local council leaders to reject Bristol Airport’s latest expansion plans. Under its previous Conservative leadership, the combined authority backed the proposals.
North Somerset Council refused planning permission for the airport to expand beyond 10 million passengers a year and there is currently a public inquiry after the airport lodged an appeal. As neighbouring authorities, BANES Council voted to oppose airport expansion in 2019 and in 2020 Bristol’s Labour-controlled city council reversed its previous position of support.
But in 2019 South Gloucestershire Council, which is Tory controlled, said it recognised the proposal would bring significant economic benefits to the site itself, as well as the wider West of England area and beyond.
This week Mr Norris said: “We are in the midst of a climate and biodiversity emergency. The vast majority of people across North Somerset, Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire know this and are rightly extremely concerned. Regrettably some politicians are still to catch-up with local public opinion.
“The global pandemic has drastically shrunk the amount of air traffic. Meanwhile extreme climate emergency events are seeing super high temperatures, fires, floods and melting sea ice around our fragile planet. I believe these deeply concerning phenomena have fundamentally changed the way most of us think about air travel now and in the future.
“We need to remember Bristol Airport has not hit its previous passenger targets. So now is certainly not the time to seek to expand Bristol Airport’s flight numbers even further.
“That is why I am seeking to change the West of England Combined Authority’s official position. Our region is justifiably proud we have set ourselves a really ambitious net zero CO2 target by 2030. But unless we show moral leadership now, when it comes to the airport’s proposed further expansion, our net zero objectives will be seen to be a sham.”
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