Council to make final decision on Southampton Airport runway

A final decision on controversial plans to expand the runway at Southampton Airport will be made today.
A final decision on controversial plans to expand the runway at Southampton Airport will be made today. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A final decision is expected today on Southampton Airport's plans to extend its runway.

The decision will be made by Eastleigh Borough Council who will begin a full virtual council meeting at 2.00pm, which is expected to run well into the evening.

On the 26th March and after two days and 17 hours of debate, the Eastleigh Local Area Committee refused the plans over concerns about noise and climate change.

It was then determined that the decision would be made by the council today.

The Airport's operations director has previously warned that if proposals do not go ahead, thousands of jobs could be lost.

He adds the extension is "vital to the recovery of the local economy".

Before the delay of today's decision, Steve Szalay said: "This isn't just about myself and the airport team that are speaking today; this is about 2,500 jobs.

"So a vote would be a vote to secure 2,500 jobs. This is also about a vote to secure the 500 jobs that already exist, but then also to grow those jobs, and lord only knows with the state of the economy at the minute, we're going to need those jobs."

  • Steve Szalay, Operations Director, Southampton Airport

But campaigners say it will have a huge impact on noise and pollution.

Lyn Brayshaw from AXO Group says: "By extending the runway, it changes a lot of impacts of the airport; the pollution, the noise, the 46,000 people affected by the noise. So it is more than just an extra bit of runway."

"We're in a climate emergency and we need to be investing in green jobs and technology much more than we are".

"The pandemic has shown us that prevention is more cost-effective than dealing with the effects later so this is true for all the issues involved. We need to be taking action now."

  • Lyn Brayshaw from AXO Group

At the meeting today, around 200 people have asked to make representations which could delay the announcement of the final decision.

What are the plans?

  • The plans include construction of a 164 metre runway extension at the northern end.

  • 600 extra parking spaces at the long-stay car park off Mitchell Way.

  • A blast screen to the north of the proposed runway extension.

What are the noise concerns?

  • According to proposals, the number of people affected by noise would go from 11,450 in 2020 to 46,050 in 2033.

Planning officers said the noise impacts arising from the proposed development are "a significant concern".

But they also said mitigation measures would make a "positive difference".