Make it make sense FFS!

As you’ll read from the Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) press release published below, the Court of Appeal has refused to hear their appeal against the decision of the High Court to allow the expansion of Bristol Airport to go ahead. These are a couple of posts we’ve written about the proposed expansion and the campaign and legal battle to try and halt it: Why it has to be no go for Bristol Airport expansion 20.10.22 and: The system is rigged… 1.2.23.

Bristol Airport is in the arse end of nowhere. There’s no mass transit link to get passengers to and from the airport. A few bus services don’t count as a mass transit option. Pretty much all of the passengers get to and from the airport by car or taxi. Any expansion of the airport capacity will lead to an increase in traffic. An increase in traffic means more congestion and more pollution.

This is where it gets surreal. On the one hand, we have an airport expansion that’s going to lead to a massive increase in traffic. On the other hand, we’re being told that in order to meet net zero climate targets, car use in the Bristol region has to halve by 2030: An impossible target? 23.3.23. Given these these wildly conflicting signals, what the heck are people meant to think? Some one please make this make sense FFS!

Anyway, here’s the BAAN press release:



Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) regret to report that they have been informed by the Court of Appeal that the court has refused to hear their appeal against the decision of the High Court to allow the expansion of Bristol Airport to go ahead. This means there is no longer any legal impediment to stop the airport ignoring the huge majority of local opinion and democratic institutions that have rejected the airport’s plans.

If they still wish to defy local opinion, the airport can now expand by an extra two million passengers a year, build a multi-storey car park on Greenbelt land, massively increase the number of summer night flights and congest the local roads with an extra 10,000 cars a day. These plans show clearly that Bristol Airport simply put profit above any consideration of the climate and ecological crisis or the considerations of local people and it is impossible for them to pretend otherwise.

BAAN, led by a small group of active volunteers, has pulled together a coalition of concerned organisations, local councils and many thousands of local people, to resist the expansion. The decision has been considered by a local planning committee (who decisively rejected the plans) a ten-week local planning inquiry and a High Court hearing. On the face of it, because the airport has ultimately been given permission, it may look like this campaign has been a waste of time and effort but in fact, this could not be further from the truth.

Here are some of the achievements of BAAN and the many other campaigners who have come together and objected in this important and dignified campaign.

– The airport’s plans have been delayed since December 2019; over four years. That means we have saved up to four million tonnes of carbon and other emissions into our atmosphere. For context; the annual emissions of all of Bristol’s cars buses and lorries is 500,000 tonnes.

– We have informed many people locally and beyond through demonstrations, town-hall events, articles, broadcast and print media about the vitally important issue of rapidly increasing aviation emissions. This has led to the formation and development of many local groups concerned about the airport and climate change. We have also helped to forge long-lasting links between existing activist groups working on related issues. Perhaps most importantly a trusted network of trust and friendship has been developed in the area which will be utilised in many other campaigns.

– By steadfastly working through the entire legal and planning process, we have bought new clarity to the fact that it is simply not fit for purpose. As an example of this, we have definitively demonstrated that there is a gap in the planning system meaning that no one-not the Secretary of State or the Planning Inspectors, have actually taken into account the extra carbon emissions from the extra 13,000 planes that will fly from Bristol Airport because of this decision.

– The outrage caused by this decision, and the fact that up to twenty other airports have plans to expand, has galvanised the beginning of a national campaign against the growth of aviation. BAAN recently organised an in-person meeting with fifteen other groups who are campaigning on this issue and we have agreed to work together to stop this impossible business-as-usual approach of continual expansion of aviation.

So what next? BAAN is not going away. We know (because they have told us many times) that Bristol Airport has plans to expand from the current ten million passengers a year to twenty million. They now know clearly that the vast majority of local people and politicians will be steadfastly against this but in view of their actions to date that is unlikely to stop them pushing forward with their destructive plans. Therefore, we shall be vigilant and wait for their next planning application. We do not expect the wait to be very long and again, we will do everything we can to stop them.

Meanwhile, the focus for us as a group will be to bring the lessons learned in Bristol to the wider national campaign which we are currently involved in planning with other organisations. If you want to register to receive more information about that please email to register your interest.

Stephen Clarke one of the co-coordinators of BAAN states:

I am naturally very disappointed and angry about this decision. It now seems very clear to me that the planning system concerning airport expansion has been rigged by the government to ignore the climate crisis.

The aviation industry and government are planning for a further increase in UK passengers of more than 70% by 2050 while claiming that costly and unproven technologies, and a rapid scaling of alternative fuels, will help the sector to achieve net-zero by the same date. It’s very clearly a fantasy being used to justify decisions like that at Bristol.

Bristol Airport themselves pretend to be concerned about local stakeholders and the climate but nothing could be clearer evidence than this process that they simply don’t give a damn about either.

What they must understand though is that we are not going away; on the contrary, we will be energised by this ridiculous decision and will take the fight to a national level’.

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