Bristol launches £1.2bn e-border

Bristol Airport has introduced automated security measures at its border controls, allowing passengers to scan their own passports, and helping police identify wanted crooks before they enter the country.

Costing £1.2bn to implement, the e-Border system scans the facial features of passengers, and then checks the data against their passport photo – however grim it may be.

The addition of fingerprint visas and ID cards, in tandem with e-Border, represents a major overhaul of airport security measures, the first of its kind in almost fifty years.

Bristol joins Stansted and Manchester airports as pioneers of self-scanning technology, but fingerprint visas have been a facet of airport terminals for a number of months. The UK Border Agency hopes that all UK sites will carry the technology before the end of the year.

UK border controls were tightened following the destruction of the World Trade Centre in September 2001 and the discovery of the transatlantic bomb plot five years later – an event that reached a crescendo at the beginning of the month.

Since then, passengers have had to endure lengthy queues, a ban on liquids, and gun-toting police officers stalking the terminals. All of that could change, however, if trials of a new liquid scanner prove successful.

The device, designed to detect flammable and explosive products, could save the Border Agency over £100m in extra surveillance systems. Used in conjunction with e-Border technology, UK airports could experience gentle security measures for the first time in a decade.

Critics have warned officials away from entrusting life and limb to robots and machines, but the ‘automatic airport’ is clearly a priority for the Border Agency.

Bristol City Council opposes airport expansion

The £150 million plans for the expansion of Bristol International Airport have not been backed by Bristol City Council. The Council, the original owners of the airport, have formally objected to North Somerset Council, the authority dealing with the planning application.

In a letter to the Head of Development Control at North Somerset on 18/08/09, Bristol City Council stated that their ‘position on the development proposals remained substantially unchanged’ from their original objections. These were raised after the publication of the Master Plan for the airport in 2006.

The plans will double the size of the terminal which was only opened in March 2000; there will be a five storey car park, a new runway apron and new passenger walkways. Passenger numbers are expected to rise from the current 6 million to 10 million by 2016 and to 12.5 million by 2030.

Bristol City Council recommends that the airport minimise the increase in noise the expansion will bring. It suggests that ‘the expansion is likely to work against the City Council’s aspirations for cleaner air in the city’. The Council is unclear how the proposal will reduce the airport’s target for carbon dioxide emissions but does back the increase in the Bristol Flyer coach service to Bristol.

The objection from Bristol City Council was submitted as part of the wider public consultation process which has now ended. The decision on the expansion plans will be taken by North Somerset Council at a date yet to be decided.

Jobs will suffer as result of Bristol expansion

Another week sees another airport expansion causing headlines. With Heathrow, Stansted and Aberdeen all attracting controversy in the past few months, now it is the turn of Bristol Airport to face the wrath of the protestors.

The group in question is SBAE (Stop Bristol Airport Expansion), and it has recently picked up on a report by the Aviation Environment Federation entitled “Airport Jobs: False Hopes, Cruel Hoax”. In it, the claim is made that increasing airport sizes in the south west would only lead to more people choosing to travel and spend their money abroad. As a result, the area would actually lose jobs rather than gain them.

The report made reference to the tourism deficit of over £1 billion in the south west in 2005. This is the amount of money spent abroad by people flying from Bristol Airport, compared to the amount spent in the area by people flying in. The group stated that by 2030, this deficit would rise and lead to the loss of 64,000 jobs in the area.

Despite being described as “laughable” by Jamie Christon, the deputy managing director at Exeter International Airport, who said that skilled jobs and tourism would both benefit from expansions to airports in the region, the report has been taken up by the campaign group.

The proposals that the group is fighting against include the doubling of the terminal size, the increase in the number of aircraft stands by nine, extra walkways to the planes and a new hotel and car park.

In total, the cost of the plans comes to £150 million, and it is hoped that by 2016 passenger numbers will have risen from 6 million to 11 million a year with an extra 4,000 jobs created.

4000 new jobs likely at Bristol

New plans to expand Bristol International Airport could create approximately 4,000 new jobs if approved by North Somerset Council. The decision will probably be announced by the end of May and opinion is currently split as to what the best outcome would be.

The firm in charge of the new plans to extend the terminal building at Bristol and introduce extra car parking space as well as brand new stands for aircraft believes that the boost to the local economy which could result from the plans would be significant.

The chief executive of Bristol International Airport, Robert Sinclair, mirrored the thoughts of the firm, stating that the expansion (which would see the airport capable of handling approximately ten million individuals, an increase of four million on the current figure) would help “attract tourists directly into the region”, which would undoubtedly help to support “the local economy”.

Although officials at Bristol have revealed that the environmental impact of the new plans would be managed carefully, several organisations have made their opposition to the scheme known. The Stop Bristol Airport Expansion group is one such example and a spokeswoman revealed that the proposed expansion “makes a mockery of the government’s green credentials as supposed leaders on climate change”.

Groups such as Stop Bristol Airport Expansion believe that the potential economic boost is negligible in importance when viewed in the light of the environmental impact. The news from airport officials that airlines would try to operate quieter planes after the expansion is unlikely to calm their fears.

Bristol Airport expansion plans criticised

Stop Bristol Airport Expansion, a campaign group actively opposed to the expansion of Bristol Airport, has spoken about its fears that a change in Government policy will prove detrimental to local businesses. The group’s anxiety has arisen as a result of carbon reduction targets announced by the Government. MPs recently voted in favour of an alteration to the Climate Change Bill. This amendment will see aviation emissions included in the carbon reduction targets for Britain.

Overall, the Government wishes to see emissions across the UK reduced by 80% by 2050. However, with the proposed expansion to Bristol Airport, other businesses will have to lower their emissions drastically in order to compensate for the extra impact on the environment caused by the growth.

Jeremy Birch, a spokesman for the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion campaign group, has commended the Government for including “the UK’s international aviation emissions in our new 80% target”. He stated recently that including emissions from every flight in the target creates “a level playing field between all industries”.

However, Birch continued to state that every industry must now take part in “delivering the cuts”. As such, according to the spokesman, Bristol Airport must not be allowed to expand. If expansions do occur as planned, there will be a subsequent “drain on the economy” as other industries struggle to meet the targets.

He finished by speaking about the current problems caused in the local area as a result of the airport’s location. The South West region of the country is already losing “millions of pounds” because local people travel abroad to spend their hard-earned cash, and tourists do not bring in enough money to compensate for this fact.

Bristol launches scheme to help stranded passengers

Bristol Airport has announced exciting plans to launch a new service which will help stranded passengers. Every year, one in eight travellers suffer the misfortune of missing their flight through no fault of their own. Missing a flight can have devastating financial knock-on effects as passengers desperately attempt to rearrange car hire reservations, change hotel bookings and alter transfers. They may even have to fork out on travel to a different airport.

However, the new service, offered by, will help passengers find convenient travel alternatives from Bristol Airport. The head of commercial aviation and route development at the airport, Shaun Browne, expressed his delight at the introduction of the scheme. He believes that it is fantastic for passengers to have “an expert resource at their fingertips” following a missed flight. Browne continued to discuss the “in-depth knowledge of international connections” boasted by

Bristol Airport has always been a popular choice with travellers living in the surrounding regions. Two years ago, the airport was the ninth busiest in the UK and over 5 million passengers passed through its doors.

If you are unlucky enough to miss a flight, follow these simple steps provided by the website:

  • Firstly, do not panic.
  • Contact a member of the company and inform them of your intended destination and previous travel plans.
  • The company will do all it can to find alternative travel arrangements by taking advantage of pre-negotiated rates with airlines, coach and bus companies, car hire companies and hotels.

Bristol goes green with wind turbine and cooking oil recycling

At a time when the aviation industry is constantly under fire for its poor green credentials, it is good to learn that Bristol Airport, although planning a huge expansion, is keen to improve its energy efficiency and reduce its harmful emissions.

Plans are afoot to build a wind turbine which would produce around a tenth of the electricity required by the airport. The proposed turbine would be 65 feet tall (less than the height of the existing light columns) so would not be obtrusive and would be positioned between the old and the new terminals.

At the moment feasibility studies are being carried out before plans are submitted to North Somerset Council. There is some doubt as to whether the turbine will need planning permission, but once this is clarified hopes are high that the turbine can be installed later this year with others planned for the future.

Other green initiatives under consideration include the burning of waste timber from a local supplier to heat the airport, and recycling used cooking oil from Bristol’s catering industry to produce fuel for the vehicles used on the ground.

A spokesman for the airport has said that he hopes the plans will demonstrate the airport’s commitment to lessening the impact of their activities on the environment and reducing the airport’s carbon footprint.

The proposed expansion of Bristol Airport is worth £80 million and would increase passenger levels by 50% from six million to nine million by 2015. Currently flights to and from Bristol are responsible for 0.4% of the region’s emissions, but this figure could rise to 0.7% if the proposed expansion plans are given the green light.

£5 to fast track security at Bristol

One of the least enjoyable parts of flying off on a holiday has to be standing in queues at the airport. However, from 5 Aug holidaymakers and business travellers flying out of Bristol airport will be able to fast track through security for just a fiver.

The fast track passes are available either in advance when making an online booking or at the airport kiosks. The move has come after 60% of business travellers using the airport said they would be willing to pay for such a facility.

Alison Roberts from Bristol airport said that they had taken note of passengers’ views and realised that people want to spend less time queuing and more time in the departure lounges. Measures have already been taken to improve queuing time but there are still people, especially regular business passengers, who are willing to pay for the privilege of being able to “guarantee an even quicker journey through the airport”, hence the decision to introduce the Fly Thru option.

Similar schemes operate at Liverpool airport, where passengers can pay £2 to join a separate security channel. Newquay airport charges £5, whilst Norwich charges £3 for the same service. Passenger watchdog, the AUC, condemned the move last year, raising concerns that it was resulting in much longer queues for passengers not willing to pay the extra charge.

In America passengers can pay a fee of $128 a year to undergo security checks and have data such as finger prints and iris scans put on a Clear card which then allows them to fast track through security.

Obstacle for walkway plans at Bristol Airport

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.”

It’s easy being green

To raise awareness of climate change, Bristol Internationl Airport has joined up with Climate Care, the UK’s leading carbon offsetting organisation. This will offer passengers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions they produce on flights to and from Bristol. Bristol Airport have also signed an agreement with Climate Care to offset carbon emissions produced by its staff in 2007.