‘Green light’ for Bristol expansion

The UK secretary of state has raised no further concerns about Bristol Airport’s controversial expansion plans, meaning that work on the project can now begin as planned. The move ends years of bickering over the environmental impact of the £150m scheme.

Councillors had recommended that the expansion go ahead as recently as May 2010, but the paperwork had to be considered by a local planning association before construction could begin.

Bristol has one of the largest airports in the UK, handling an average of 5.6m travellers every year. However, the hub wants to attract 9m passengers within the next five years and 12.5m passengers by 2030.

Such a monumental jump in traffic is unachievable with facilities that are more accustomed to handling a few million a year. At least that is the argument that Bristol bosses have been putting forward since the airport’s Master Plan was published in 2006.

The Master Plan, which is a document detailing the airport’s plans for the near future, also mentioned a huge rise in the number of aircraft travelling to and from Bristol Airport, from 53,000 in 2004 to 108,000 in 2030.

Critics were not impressed with the news, and set about trying to block the expansion.

Four years later, a representative for the pressure group Stop Bristol Airport Expansion, Hilary Burn, said that the news of the airport’s success was “exceptionally disappointing” and “against North Somerset Council’s policies".

Airport bosses claim that the plan was subjected to “vigorous examination" but opponents have drawn attention to the airport’s ‘policy’ of ignoring the results of public consultations after only 320 of 5,500 comments were in favour of the plan.

In protest, the magazine Beautiful Britain painted a runway in a Bristol field during May to highlight a perceived trend of runways springing up ‘overnight.’

The airport believes that the project will be a huge boon to the local area, creating 4,000 jobs and generating £340m extra revenue per year.

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