Airport ruling ‘flies in the face’ of democracy


The leader of North Somerset Council has expressed his ‘extreme disappointment’ at a decision to allow the expansion of Bristol Airport.

The independent Planning Inspectorate yesterday announced it will allow Bristol Airport’s capacity to increase from 10 million passengers a year to 12 million, despite North Somerset Council’s rejection of the plans.

The airport has welcomed the decision, arguing that it will lead to the creation of 800 jobs at Bristol Airport and up to a further 5,000 regionally.

‘The decision is excellent news for our region’s economy, allowing us to create thousands of new jobs in the years ahead and provide more choice for our customers, supporting inbound tourism, and reducing the millions of road journeys made to London airports each year,’ said Dave Lees, CEO of Bristol Airport.

‘We will now push ahead with our multi-million-pound plans for net zero operations by 2030 and look forward to working with stakeholders and the community to deliver sustainable growth.’

However, North Somerset Council leader Cllr Don Davies has said he is disappointed by the decision, which he said ‘disregards the views of the local communities.’

‘Having heard all the evidence and listened to both professional advice and the views of local residents, our planning committee voted to refuse the application to expand the airport's capacity beyond an as yet unreached 10 million passengers a year, being barely eight million pre-pandemic,’ he said.

‘The refusal was based on sound planning grounds and the firm belief that the detrimental effect of the expansion of the airport on this area and the wider impact on the environment outweighed the narrower benefits of airport expansion which sit almost entirely in the commercial interests of the owners, a foreign pension fund.

‘At the inquiry our team of specialist consultants, led by a senior QC, mounted a robust defence of the council’s position and it is extremely disappointing that the inspectors have overturned our decision and given the go-ahead for Bristol Airport to grow even further with all the associated noise, environmental and health impacts that entails.’

‘This simply flies in the face of local democracy and disregards the views of the local communities who fought equally hard to resist the expansion,’ he continued.

‘It completely undermines our vision for a greener North Somerset, our determination to tackle the climate emergency and the target we have set for the area to be carbon neutral by 2030.’

This article first appeared on

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