Green councillors are celebrating after a Green motion passed at yesterday’s (8th December) Council meeting commits Bristol Council to opposing Bristol Airport expansion, overturning the administration’s previous position of supporting the plans. The change of view by a major stakeholder is particularly significant as the Airport’s expansion plans, having been rejected by North Somerset on 11 February, are currently being reviewed by the planning inspectorate following an appeal by the airport.
The decision has been described by activists as a test case, as Bristol Airport is the first of many regional airports planning expansion, and also represents a test of the government’s commitment to carbon targets under the Paris accords. The Green motion states that “that airport expansion is incompatible with Bristol, the West of England and the region’s carbon reduction targets and therefore must not go ahead.” [full text in notes below]
Bristol Green Councillor Steve Clarke played an important role in the initial campaign against airport expansion, working with activists and councillors across multiple councils, and proposed the motion at this afternoon’s meeting. He said:
“I’m delighted by tonight’s news, it’s great that we’ve been able to persuade the Labour Administration to change its position on this. It shows the value of having elected Greens in the Council to speak up for our climate commitments. It’s quite simple really – if a Council supports airport expansion, which will cause over one million tonnes more carbon dioxide emissions, it is not taking the climate emergency seriously. As the motion notes, I will be writing a letter to the planning inspectorate formally opposing the airport’s appeal and expect the Mayor to support this.”
Councillor Jerome Thomas, the other proposer of the motion, added:
“Tonight’s news is really significant – the Airport’s expansion is the biggest carbon decision for the region in decades, and Bristol Council has now sent a strong message that Bristol Airport expansion must not go ahead. There was a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure Labour’s cooperation and I’m glad we could eventually agree on wording that still changes our council’s position on this issue.”
To build pressure on the WECA and Bristol Mayors to oppose Bristol Airport’s expansion, please sign and share this petition.
The Green motion was amended by a Labour amendment. Green councillors supported this amendment, in order to ensure that the motion would pass. The Greens worked with Labour ahead of the meeting to find wording both parties could agree on.
Green councillors said they were prepared to cooperate in this way because the revised motion still opposes airport expansion, noting that it is incompatible with carbon reduction targets “and therefore must not go ahead”. The revised motion also calls on the Mayor to support councillors lobbying the planning inspector to ask them not to overturn North Somerset’s rejection.