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Gloucestershire Business News

Airport expansion won’t go ahead

Plans to expand Bristol airport have been rejected, following protests that it would worsen the climate emergency, damage the health of local people, and harm wildlife.

Officers had recommended that North Somerset Council back the expansion - and warned that the council could face an expensive public inquiry if it turned it down, as reported by The Guardian.

But following a four and a half hour meeting in Weston-super-Mare, councillors rejected the plans by 18 votes to seven. The decision was hailed as historic by activists, who said it would inspire others to reject airport expansions.

Don Davies, the leader of the council, said that the council would reconsider the decision in future, when airline travel has decarbonised and there are better public transport links to the airport.

The airport, which is seven miles south of Bristol, was given permission to expand from 7 million to 10 million passengers a year in 2011. It expects to hit 10 million in 2021 and had wanted to increase capacity to 12 million. Plans for expansion included extending the passenger terminus and adding 3000 car parking spaces, many of them in the greenbelt.

Bristol airport said the expansion would have generated an extra £1.4bn to the regional economy over the next decade and directly created hundreds of new jobs.

But more than 8,000 people objected to the plans. Ahead of the meeting, climate change activists, Extinction Rebellion, organised a three-day protest.

During the meeting yesterday (10th February) evening, objectors claimed the scheme would lead to an increase in conditions such as asthma and would harm colonies of bats and birds.

Security was tight at the meeting, and placards, glue, loud-hailers and non-religious face coverings were all banned. Almost 5,000 people watched the debate live online.

The decision is not the end of the process. Because the councillors went against recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant then has six months to appeal. An appeal would be heard at a public inquiry.

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