I'm normally commenting on politics, but this weekend I'm going to join in. Today I will post my objection to Bristol Airport's expansion. If anyone wishes to comment on their planning application, then the deadline is 26 January and the North Somerset Council site makes it easy to find the application (if you put 'airport' into the search of current applications) and fill out a form in a few minutes. Some have written pages, others only a line or two. They pay no attention to repeated arguments so expressing individual views has more impact. Here's mine:
I strongly object to the planning application submitted by Bristol Airport to expand from 8 million to 12 million passengers per year. Since the airport has yet to fulfil commitments made contingent on past applications, I argue against the idea of approval with conditions. I note that they have yet to complete the multi-storey car parks and are asking to be released from earlier conditions about night flights; why couldn’t that pattern happen again?
The only sensible options for the Council to consider: (a) acknowledgement that expansion is not possible on this site, or (b) allow a resubmission addressing the gaps. The content of the substantial number of objections from residents to this application provide evidence of this. To approve as it stands would expose the Council to the risk of judicial review and adverse media publicity.
1. Existing problems that will be increased by expansion:
The airport is causing damage to this beautiful part of North Somerset. People are intending to leave the area if the airport expansion takes place and observing that properties may be harder to sell. This could impact on schools and businesses.
Environmental impact including on climate change. How will Bristol achieve its targets of being carbon neutral with this increase?
Noise pollution – this has increased already since I have been living in North Somerset (since 2014) and is decreasing the quality of life for the airport’s neighbours (even though our house is not that close).
The Airport currently operates a monopoly with regard to car parking on its site. Bearing in mind the recent ruling by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) against Heathrow Limited. Heathrow was fined £1.6m for breaching competition law. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/heathrow-and-arora-admit-to-anti-competitive-car-park-agreement) So potentially Bristol Airport is also in breach.
Hugely more traffic along the A38, making it extremely difficult to get onto the road from the villages and massively increasing the traffic jams and likelihood of accidents.
Illegal car parking on the green belt in fields and along the lanes, causing further risk of accidents, visual blight and damage to the Green Belt.
Waste of opportunity to compensate the local communities by at least providing public transport between the airport and Bristol. The current Flyer from Temple Meads is infrequent, has no proper bus stop and is not well known so is under-used relative to need.
No further construction work should have been allowed under any new approval until existing obligations within previous planning applications have been met i.e. multi-storey car parks, and yet we have a huge ugly new building just by the A38.
No new expansion of surface car parking on current Greenbelt zones (e.g., within the Airport’s area known as 'Silver Zone') should be allowed at all until all current obligations are met. What if this application is approved and then the airport argue they can only survive by endlessly encroaching onto the Greenbelt?
2. Gaps in the application that are serious enough to warrant rejection:
There is no comprehensive environmental impact study in the application. It should at least cover noise pollution, impact on climate change, and inappropriate development on green belt.
There is no consideration of other negative impacts in the application (including economic, health and social) so it is entirely one-sided. (Some of those residents who are creating employment may move elsewhere as living anywhere near the airport could become unbearable.)
There are no proposals for (a) introducing low carbon emission vehicles to be used on the site to reduce the negative environmental impact, (b) introducing larger, low noise and emission aircraft with the airlines.
No full explanation of the new flight plans or plans to minimise noise pollution caused by the increase in night flights.
A parking strategy that includes the introduction of an alternative car park operator.
No plans to support North Somerset Council in their efforts to reduce unauthorised parking in fields. Employment of an external contractor to assist North Somerset Council with surveillance should be part of the application, as required by the Article 4 Directive.
No plans to improve the links between the Airport Flyer, all Bristol’s railway stations and other parts of the city.
No traffic study carried out between the Airport, North Somerset Council and Bristol City Council or plans for improving transport in an integrated way. Currently the proposal includes small improvements between the A38 and Downend Road that will neither address on-going problems or risks nor anticipate new ones. Especially problematic, there are no plans about how the A38 approach to the north of the Airport will be developed and expanded to accommodate the increase in traffic.
3. Suggestions for improving the application or North Somerset Council’s response
Include the introduction of (a) taxi holding area on-site to minimise the current issue of taxies parking on double yellow lines, in A38 lay-bys, field entrances, country lanes, etc making driving around difficult for local residents and increasing the risk of accidents for both cars and pedestrians, and (b) taxi operator code of conduct for all taxis, minibuses and cabs to sign up to.
Include a free passenger drop off and collection area adjacent to the terminal buildings, partly to reduce risky parking but also for local residents picking up those using the Flyer from Bristol.
Introduce a comprehensive CCTV system around the external parameters of the Airport to improve monitoring and security.
North Somerset Council should develop or encourage an independent park & ride facility as a competitor to on-site Airport parking to ensure no breach of competition law.
I recommend that it is rejected.