At first glance, Bristol and Heathrow airports might appear to have little in common, save for a few similar airlines and a bookstore or two, but these two hubs share a rather unpleasant accolade: they have both drawn criticism for their expansion plans, however successful they might be in the end.
Campaigners’ main concern is that public opinion is being ignored, especially with regard to the environmental impact of night flying, terminal upgrades, and runway extensions at Britain’s many airports. Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh have also proposed or undertaken expansion projects in recent years, with little regard for the feelings of local residents.
Whilst Manchester’s decision to destroy two listed buildings and build a hangar on a newt colony might have given eco-warriors something new to complain about, there is no denying that aggressive expansion by UK airports is eroding the public’s confidence in both the government and the aviation industry.
So, when Bristol Airport’s expansion plans were given the green light by local councillors, despite months of aggressive lobbying by concerned residents, Beautiful Britain magazine commissioned an unusual piece of art, designed to draw attention to a perceived lack of consultation on major construction projects.
Painted in a field beside the M5 motorway, Beautiful Britain sketched the outline of a 70m runway. The words, ‘Planning Approved,’ are stamped across the middle. The magazine had previously questioned thousands of its readers, and discovered that 80% of respondents wanted more ‘red tape’ to prevent new runways from appearing overnight, much like Beautiful Britain’s giant painting.
The mural was painted with biodegradable paint, naturally.