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Bristol Labour block opportunity to oppose airport expansion

Green Councillors in Bristol have expressed their disappointment with the Labour Mayor’s continued support for Airport Expansion despite previously recognising a climate emergency.

Greens accused Marvin Rees of “empty words on climate change” after the Labour group and Mayor voted to block debating a motion on Bristol Airport expansion – even though it could be the last opportunity for the Council to weigh in before the planning meeting taking place at North Somerset Council early next year.

Despite an appeal from the Greens, the motion was left out of the meeting after Labour and Conservative councillors voted against adding sufficient time for it to be discussed. At the meeting there were over 120 statements against airport expansion, including a statement from MEDACT Bristol representing over 100 local doctors opposed to the expansion.

During the meeting Mayor attempted to argue the Airport expansion was not his decision to take but as a major stakeholder the Mayor and Bristol Council have influence in their views on the matter. Other councils and council leaders in the region have come out against the expansion of the Airport (e.g. Weston Council).

The Green motion was proposed by Green Councillor Steve Clarke, who also asked Mayor Rees about his position on airport expansion during Members Forum at the beginning of the meeting. In response the Mayor said “my position is that Bristol Airport should be allowed to expand in a context of increasing global passenger numbers”.

Responding outside the meeting to the Mayor’s answer, Cllr Clarke said:

“The Mayor is happy to ’talk the talk’ on climate change but he seems to be trying once again to ignore the biggest carbon decision in the region; the proposed expansion of Bristol Airport. The extra carbon produced by the expansion alone will be almost as much as the whole emissions of Bristol.”

“This is a Climate Emergency and the people in Bristol have a right to ask for leadership and action on climate change rather than excuses. Over 4000 individuals and most of the nearby communities have formally objected; he should follow their example at once.”

Leader of the Green Group, councillor Eleanor Combley said:

“The Council has accepted there’s a Climate Emergency but when push comes to shove the Mayor sides with the airport’s shareholders instead of local people and the planet. This is exactly what environmental campaigners like Greta Thunberg mean when they accuse politicians of ‘empty words’ on climate change.”

Reacting to the events in the Council meeting, Councillor Clarke added:

“It’s a disgrace that councillors voted against the extra time needed to debate this crucial issue, particularly as this could be our last chance before the key vote at North Somerset Council. Blocking climate action is what I’ve come to expect from the Tories but it’s depressing to see Labour councillors line up alongside them to block Green action yet again and take the side of big polluters over people and the planet.”

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