Despite growing pressure from climate activists, local councils and Greens, Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees continues to back the expansion of Bristol Airport, a development which opponents say is incompatible with the local area’s and Bristol’s own carbon neutrality targets.
Green councillor Steve Clarke asked Marvin Rees at Full Council today (14 January) to rescind an official letter of support for the expansion he sent to North Somerset Council in 2019 – just months after voting for a Green motion to declare a climate emergency and set a target for Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030. In response, the Mayor said the letter was simply a factual response ‘commenting on’ elements of the airport’s expansion plans such as the car parking changes.
The official letter, (see below) sent by Marvin Rees and Kye Dudd to North Somerset in June 2019, states that Bristol Council “supports the important role the airport plays in connecting the West of England and wider South West to global destinations” and repeats approvingly the airport’s claims regarding positive economic impacts. Following this, Councillor Clarke asked the Mayor several times to state his own position on the airport's expansion, but the Mayor refused to answer; the third occasion he has done so after being asked by Green councillors.
The Mayor’s support for airport expansion, which would see passenger numbers increase from the current 8.6 million per year to 12 million and then to 20 million and cause a significant increase in pollution, noise and congestion was initially based on a report by the airport listing the supposed economic benefits. The respected think-tank New Economics Foundation, were commissioned to examine the airport’s report and concluded starkly that it “significantly overstated” the economic benefits.
Councillor Clarke states “We are approaching decision making time in this application. A lot has changed since the Mayor and Cllr. Kye Dudd wrote their letter of support for the expansion in April last year: multiple warnings from scientists, floods around the world and of course the ongoing fires in Australia. This is possibly the biggest decision that this region will take in the battle against climate change – the carbon emissions from the expansion alone are nearly the same as the whole of Bristol’s emissions. I appeal to Marvin Rees to show leadership in the face of the Climate Emergency he has declared, retract his support, and write a letter of objection to the airport’s plans.”
Comment on Bristol Airport's planning application below from Marvin Rees and Kye Dudd: