Bristol airport expansion - what is the row about?

Activists from Extinction Rebellion take part in a protest against the expansion in August 2020 Credit: PA Images

A High Court decision on whether Bristol Airport should be allowed to expand is set to be announced tomorrow (31 January).

The airport wants to increase annual passenger capacity by two million to 12 million and flights by 10,420 to almost 86,000 a year.

As part of the plans, the terminal will be made bigger and a multi-storey car park built to hold as many as 2,500 cars. The airport also wants to improve bus routes.

The Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) is trying to stop the expansion from going ahead.

It comes after the Planning Inspectorate decided to support the airport's appeal in February 2022.

BAAN says the expansion is not legally compliant with the Climate Change Act, The Paris Agreement and the Government’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 and "must be stopped."

It is claimed some 20 regional airports are watching the outcome of the Bristol plan before finalising their decisions on whether to try to expand.

Expansion plans - a timeline

  • Bristol Airport announced the plans in 2018

  • North Somerset Council rejected the proposals in February 2020, despite its own officers saying they should be recommended for approval

  • Bristol Airport's subsequent appeal to the planning inspectorate was then successful in February 2022

The plans were announced in 2018 Credit: Bristol Airport

For and against

Airport bosses say the expansion would also create thousands of new jobs in the years ahead and reduce the millions of road journeys made to London airports each year.

They also say the aim is for the airport to be net zero by 2030.

But the plans have proved controversial, with campaigners saying the expansion would be harmful to the environment.

Speaking when the decision was upheld in February 2022, North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox said the decision was "hugely disappointing".

He said he had concerns about the transport infrastructure in the area and whether it would be able to support the expansion.

He also highlighted the impact the expansion could have on the quality of life for people living in the nearby towns and villages.

The outcome is set to be announced at the Justice Centre at 10.30am on Tuesday 31 January.

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