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Greens say we all need to challenge airport expansion

A consultation currently underway on plans for the expansion of Bristol airport is due to end Friday 26th January. Green councillors are opposed to the expansion, highlighting how the increase in the airport’s capacity – which would see passenger numbers more than double from 8 million to 20 million – contradicts local and national climate targets. The Council’s Joint Spatial Plan – which includes North Somerset and the geographical area covered by the airport– contains an explicit commitment to making a 50% cut in CO2 emissions by 2036. Bristol is also committed to being carbon neutral by 2050, a goal adopted by the previous Mayor George Ferguson which has continued under Marvin Rees.

Green councillors submitted motions to Council meetings in December and January opposed to the airport expansion, and in last week’s Council meeting Councillor Charlie Bolton pressed the Labour Mayor on the issue.

Councillor Bolton said:

“I asked the Mayor about this at the last Full Council and in response he suggested he supports both meeting our climate targets and expanding the airport, which is quite frankly impossible to reconcile. Making encouraging sounds about climate commitments while blithely agreeing to more air travel is trying to have your cake and eat it. Much like Theresa May it seems the Mayor simply doesn’t want to face up to the unpleasant reality that our climate change targets are incompatible with further expanding airports and air travel in the UK.

Political evasion on this issue isn’t helping anyone – we have a collective responsibility to act if we want to save our planet. I’d urge everybody to respond to the consultation before it closes and oppose the expansion of this airport.”

Councillor Bolton also pointed out that at least two-thirds of flights at Bristol airport are taken by domestic passengers with an income above the national average. In other words, support for airport expansion is clearly weighted to benefit the more wealthy. (1)

Background

- Fill in the airport consultation at https://www.bristolairportfuture.com/have-your-say/

1) CAA Passenger Survey Report 2015 Table 10.2 – http://www.caa.co.uk/uploadedFiles/CAA/Content/Standard_Content/Data_and_analysis/Datasets/Passenger_survey/CAA%20Passenger%20survey%20report%202015.pdf

- Bristol Friends of the Earth have information on why further airport expansion is incompatible with UK climate targets at http://sbae.bristolfoe.org.uk/planes-and-climate-change.php. They point out that:

- "BIA [Bristol International Airport] claim new aircraft are 20% more fuel efficient than those 10 years ago and that they will be 50% more efficient by 2020. Of course, not all planes flying from the airport are new, and those that are will not be replaced by 2020. It is also very unlikely that this further cut will be possible as it implies a rate of improvement more than twice that seen in the last 10 years.”

- “As a large user of electricity, BIA is obliged by law to make plans for reducing its usage. Its commitment to 20% of the extra power to be from renewables is in fact a very small amount and no more than they are required to do. As the terminal is planned to double in area, the total power consumption is likely to double, and thus this commitment amounts to the climate changing emissions from the terminal increasing by 80% rather than 100%.”

- The Green party nationally are also opposed to airport expansion and support a ‘frequent flyer levy’ as a fairer way of taxing the wealthiest travellers for air travel. This proposal would allow people one tax free flight per year and charge frequent flyers the most.

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