The first round of a heated campaign has been won by protesters at Bristol International Airport who are fighting to stop a new walkway being built to transfer passengers from the airport terminal to waiting aircraft. Those opposing the plans say that the 450 metre long walkway, set to cost an estimated £7 million, is actually a major building, and a covert way of increasing user capacity.
Airport bosses hoped that the walkway could be built without them needing to submit a formal planning application, believing that they had the ‘permitted development rights’ which would allow them to expand the airport. But councillors from North Somerset have backed supporters of the Stop Bristol Expansion Group campaign, demanding that the airport submit a full planning application inclusive of an environmental impact assessment.
The decision was made by councillors from the North Somerset south east committee at a meeting in Weston-super-Mare on May 14. Anti-walkway campaigners were jubilant at their triumph and delighted that local communities were being given a chance to air their views.
Meanwhile, airport officials were "extremely disappointed" at the decision, describing it as an "environmental own goal". Paul Kehoe, the airport’s chief executive, said he was undecided as to whether the airport would mount a legal challenge to overturn the decision but maintained his belief that the airport already had permission to build the walkway. He added, “there is a lot of emotion at the moment and we need to put a cold towel around our heads before deciding what to do next.”