Bristol airport makes most of its profit from car parking and its retail franchises. It's no wonder then that its planning application to expand the airport, scheduled to go before North Somerset Council's planning committee later this month, includes nearly 4,000 extra car parking spaces. It's more shocking that, in order to protect its car parking monopoly, it has submitted an objection to a planning application for a private operator to build a car park near the M5.
Nick Coates, parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, said 'the airport has tried to dress up its application on the basis that it benefits economic growth in the region. That argument is shot to pieces by the recent New Economics Foundation report into the airport's business case challenging both assumptions and projections'. He goes on to say 'The airport is just a car parking business. At a time when we are facing a climate emergency and breathing increasing amounts of polluted air this is shameful and should be stopped.'
The airport often quotes a YouGov poll which cites 73% of 271 residents backing proposals to expand the airport. This igmores the more than 3,000 objections on the North Somerset Council planning portal.
Nick Coates has carried out his own survey of 281 residents from neighbouring North East Somerset, much of which is on the flight path. The key findings are:
- There is a clear majority opposed to Airport Expansion. 39% strongly oppose and 16% oppose (total 55%) the expansion of the airport while 21% strongly support and 16% support (total 37%). The remainder neither oppose nor support.
- Respondents from the Chew Valley are the most likely to oppose the expansion (80%).
- The dominant reason for supporting was making it easier to fly overseas.
- The dominant reasons for opposing were environmental – air pollution and climate related.
- Very few (11%) people travel to Bristol Airport by public transport.
- Nearly all the respondents (93%) fly to go on holiday. The business travellers were a higher (26%) percentage than expected given other independent measurements.
Given the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions (of which aviation’s contribution is projected to be the largest) and tackle air pollution, Nick Coates goes on to say:
'There should now be a moratorium on all airport expansion throughout the UK.
'I understand why people want to fly. My opposition is not to the airport or to flying. However, there is no substantive evidence that, if airport expansion does not proceedis, tourism will be negatively affected or this will inhibit economic growth – apart from anything else the effect of air pollution on our health and environmental pollution also has a significant cost.
'I will fight for air we can breathe in North East Somerset by continuing to oppose the expansion of the airport.'