Survey finds majority of North East Somerset residents oppose Bristol Airport Expansion

Increased air pollution and effects on climate change cited as the main concerns from opponents.

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Airport - just a car parking business

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.'

Dangerous undermining of parliamentary sovereignty

When Rees-Mogg travelled to Balmoral as the leader of a small group of privy councillors on Wednesday to request the Queen prorogue Parliament he shows his total contempt for British democracy. This is no longer an issue of remain or leave, his actions have set a dangerous and alarming precedent, rightly receiving universal condemnation across all political parties. It is vital we allow Parliament a say in our country's future.
Rees-Mogg's contempt is underlined when he called the outrage, demonstrated right across the UK, 'confected'. Nick Coates, LibDem parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset said:
'I was out on the streets with others on Wednesday evening. There was no confected outrage. There was alarm, concern for our democracy. Wera Hobhouse spoke passionately about her experience in her early life the other side of the iron curtain.'
Mark Francois, another member of the ERG is right when says 'It is now the people versus the establishment and - for the sake of democracy - the people must win' although it is also obvious that he, Mogg and Johnson are the establishment and the people, who are already on the streets, will be fighting to protect democracy.

LibDems target developers who try to wriggle out of housing obligations

Developers who try to wriggle out of building social and affordable housing will have to come back to planning committee, thanks to new rules introduced by the Lib Dems running B&NES Council.

Larger housing projects usually come with a quota for the provision of social and/or affordable housing for rent or sale. Some developers try to avoid this by demonstrating that the development as a whole would not be ‘viable’ were they required to build some less expensive units.

Councillor Tim Ball (Twerton), Cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said:

“In recent years we have seen an increasing trend of developers trying to game the system, using so-called ‘viability assessments’ to avoid building the social and affordable housing required by their planning consent.

“We feel that, in these cases, it’s only right that the studies should be examined by the Planning Committee, in public, rather than behind closed doors.

“Likewise, if a developer has received permission for a major project, but then comes back wanting to make significant material changes, the Committee should be able to revisit the application. We intend to publish for public consumption all the details of viability assessments and other changes so that the public can question what is proposed.

“The Planning Committee is the right place for these issues to be decided. This isn’t just about openness and better decision making, this is about making sure we get the right sort of development for our area.

“The Lib Dems are committed to building and enabling more social housing and truly affordable housing for local people. These changes to planning procedures will help hold developers to their promises and  deliver the homes that are so desperately needed.”

Nick Coates, parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, added:

"Residents raise this issue with me on a regular basis so I am delighted that the new LibDem administration has moved quickly to close the loopholes that allow developers to wriggle out of committments particularly using viability assessments". 

The Wrington protest against Airport expansion

Nick Coates, North East Somerset parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats joined with more than four hundred others from across the region of all ages for a mass aerial photo shoot in a protest organised by Wrington residents against the expansion of Bristol Airport. (Photo: Neil Phillips)

Nick Coates said

We are all aware that there is a Climate Emergency. So why is any sensible government allowing extra runways or airport expansion?  All the councils in the West of England, and many further afield, have declared a Climate Emergency. The Committee on Climate Change highlights the fact that the aviation sector is on a path to generate more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector. This is why I am working with others to stop Bristol Airport Expansion.

I was delighted to join with the families of Wrington and nearby villages to support them in this protest. This impacts residents along the Chew Valley, in Keynsham and surrounding villages like Compton Dando, who are all on the flight path. ”

Action is required now on buses

For more than 20 years governments have known that action needs to be taken to stop the decline in bus passenger numbers, that congestion was the main inhibitor of reliable bus services and that, to reduce air pollution, we needed to move people out of cars and into buses wherever possible.

Consultation documents were issued and legislation was passed but, in nearly every case, these were never fully implemented and never fully funded. The ideas were mostly sound. The words well intentioned. The actions half-hearted and hopeless.

The Traffic Management Act Part 6, which would give LAs powers to clear bus routes and penalised those who stop in box junctions, has never been fully implemented. Secondary legislation and guidance required for franchising by the Bus Services Act was supposed to be finished by the end of 2018 but we are still waiting for it. Funding for concessionary fares zis based on 2005/06 ticket prices and we are still waiting for a review of the funding for socially necessary services - No wonder LAs struggle to fund non-commercial routes.

For the people of North East Somerset bus services are vital as a means to travel to work, to health services, to school or college and for social purposes

Nick Coates, LibDem parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, says:

"I will be pressing B&NES to maintain services, at least, at the current level. I will be lobbying for WECA to do more regionally including looking at franchising or enhanced partnerships. I will be pushing central government for a multi-year funding settlement which demonstrated our national commitment to reducing carbon emissions, decreasing congestion and improving health."

Why I oppose Bristol Airport expansion

We are all aware that there is a Climate Emergency. So why is any sensible government allowing extra runways or airport expansion?  All the councils in the West of England, and many further afield, have declared a Climate Emergency. The Committee on Climate Change highlights the fact that the aviation sector is on a path to generate more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector. This is why I am working with others to stop Bristol Airport Expansion.

Even when you take account of any savings in emissions because cars travel from the south west to Bristol rather than other UK airports, these savings pale into insignificance when compared to the increase in aviation related emissions (principally from the aircraft).

There is neither a benefit to the economy from increased business travel (because business recognises the problem and is cutting down on their travel) nor from any boost to tourism, since it has been established that the net effect of outgoing and incoming tourism is negative to the South West economy. Moreover there are relatively few extra jobs coming from any expansion to the airport.

The airport has failed to reduce the amount of car travel significantly and even the introduction of light rail to the airport from Bristol, which is essential, is expected to have a limited impact. Indeed the airport’s entire business model and financial success depends on income from car parking. Thus the increase in land take, much of which is from the green belt and over important wildlife habitats, will go primarily to more car parking.

It is significant that governments exclude aviation and shipping emissions from their emissions numbers. Clearly this is absurd.The airport itself claims to be aiming to be carbon neutral within a short period. But this excludes emissions from additional vehicle movements and flights. If the West of England is to meet its goal of reducing emissions from 2014 levels by 50% before 2035 then we will need to both reduce vehicle movements and flights.

Noise pollution, particularly at night, will worsen under the new proposals. The promised money by the airport for window insulation is a useful mitigation but of no value in the summer and to those further away from the airport such as people living in the villages along the Chew Valley, Compton Dando and South Keynsham which are directly on the flight path. Chew Valley villages, such as Chew Magna, are also impacted by light pollution as cars hurtle through the villages in the middle of the night with full beam headlights on.

Join with me,, the Parish Councils Airport Association and others in opposing this planning application. There are over 2,000 comments so far - please add yours. Go to and search for 18/P/5118/OUT and then add your comment or objection to any or all aspect of the application.

World Environment Day - Air Pollution

Today on UN World environment day LibDem and Bath MP, Wera Hobhouse, will introduce a Bill into the House of Commons to give local authorities increased powers to fine drivers of idling vehicles.

The Vehicle Emissions (Idling Penalties) Bill proposes an increase to penalties for stationary vehicle idling offences. While Local Authorities already have some powers to act on idling vehicles the Bill is intended to enhance these powers.

Wera Hobhouse said:

“For far too long this Conservative Government has failed to take air pollution seriously. They have lost numerous court cases over their inability to tackle the toxic fumes that Britain breathes every day. Liberal Democrats demand better.

"This is a major crisis, with emissions from vehicles responsible for a myriad of health problems, many terminal. Research shows that 800,000 people die every year across Europe due to air pollution.

"We must do more to tackle both the climate emergency and the air pollution crisis. The Tories must stop wilfully ignoring the problem and back my Bill."

This is an issue, not just for major urban settings but right across North East Somerset, so I welcome this initiative.

LibDems message for the European elections: Stop Brexit

Brexit is a national embarrassment given to us by the Conservatives and helped by Labour's Jeremy Corbyn. A vote for the Lib Dems is vote to stop Brexit and remain in Europe to protect our economy, public services and our environment.

See the biographies for our six excellent Candidates

Caroline Voaden

Martin Horwood

Stephen Williams

Eleanor Rylance

David Chalmers

Luke Stagnetto (representing Gibraltar)

Lib Dems now leading the challenge to Rees-Mogg

The LibDems have taken control of Bath AND North East Somerset. 

For the first time the Lib Dems came top in last week’s local elections in North East Somerset. We won 14,459 votes, which was 710 more than the Conservatives. Labour were a distant third, nearly 7,000 further behind.

Lib Dem North East Somerset parliamentary candidate Nick Coates said,

“Voters clearly want change and have decided that the Liberal Democrats are the best placed to beat the Conservatives.”

We beat our own and everybody else's expectations. It was a brilliantly executed campaign supporting a superb team of candidates.

I have been delighted to work actively,indeed intensely, over the last 7 months with successful candidates:

Bathavon North - Sarah Warren and Kevin Guy
Bathavon South - Neil Butters and Matt McCabe
High Littleton - Ryan Wills
Keynsham East - Hal MacFie and Andy Wait
Mendip (where we beat the leader of the Council) - Dave Wood
Saltford - Duncan Hounsell and Alastair Singleton
and, somewhere where I have only been a few times, Radstock where Bruce Shearn is now the councillor.

We are now the main opposition to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

And so, on to the next stage ...

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