The planning application to expand Bristol Airport has been rejected by North Somerset Council this evening.
At the opening of the debate at the special Planning and Regulatory committee meeting, Cllr Steve Hogg (Wrington) proposed a motion calling on members to refuse the application. Following a lengthy debate, councilors voted 18 in support of the motion and seven against with one abstention.
Because the refusal of the application is against the officers’ recommendation, the council’s procedure for applications of this scale is that the decision will be held over until a future meeting of the Planning and Regulatory Committee for it to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant will have six months to lodge an appeal which would then be heard at a public inquiry.
Cllr Don Davies, Leader of the Council, said:
“The airport currently handles just over eight million passengers and can still expand to the 10 million passengers a year limit it already has, so more people will still be able to fly from there and the number of people who work there should not be affected.
“What the committee has considered is that the detrimental effect of the expansion of the airport on this area and the wider impact on the environment outweighs the narrower benefits to airport expansion.
“I know some people will be upset by this decision and I am sure that we can reconsider it in future when the airline industry has decarbonized and the public transport links to the airport are far stronger.”
The committee meeting lasted for four and a half hours as both supporters of the application and objectors made their views known. The proceedings were viewed by about 200 people split across two rooms at the Town Hall while over 4,800 watched the debate live online with an average watch time of about 27 minutes.
Bristol Airport said in a statement:
“We are disappointed by the decision of North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee to recommend refusal of our planning application to increase Bristol Airport’s capacity from 10 to 12 million passengers a year, contrary to the recommendation of the Council’s own planning officers.
“This decision risks putting the brakes on the region’s economy by turning away airlines who want to serve the South West market, shutting the door to international trade and tourism at a time when the UK needs to show it is open for business.
“By preventing Bristol Airport from meeting the demand for air travel from within the region it serves, the Council will simply exacerbate the situation which already sees millions of passengers a year form our region drive to London airports in order to fly, creating carbon emissions and congestion in the process.”