The Stop Bristol Airport alliance is pleased to note that you have asked the Secretary of State to ‘call in’ the Airport planning application. However there are some serious misrepresentations and omissions in your letter:
- It is highly misleading to assert that local residents ‘understand and accept the substantial economic benefits which a fast-growing regional airport like Bristol [our emphasis] can bring to local businesses through better connectivity to export markets, international suppliers and investment’. In the case of Bristol Airport, local communities are far more likely to believe that the social and environmental costs of expansion will outweigh any marginal economic benefits, as shown by the vast majority of the 2300 respondents to the planning application.
- The landscape and environment changes requested in the planning application will not automatically lead to increased economic benefits. They will however result in wide-spread destruction of the Green Belt land for airport parking, although you do not mention this critical environmental consequence in your letter to the Secretary of State.
- You understate the case when you say local residents are ‘concerned about … increased traffic congestion from extra airport traffic on local roads, plus the effects of aircraft noise on homes under the flight, and of aircraft engine emissions on air quality’. Most us would say ‘alarmed and distressed’. The actual word in your letter is the ’downside’ (see image): an unfortunate pun on the name of one of the local roads worst affected by expansion …
In addition, there are strong arguments to support the view that expansion of the airport at this time are premature because of the current fluidity of key policy frameworks at local and national levels. Nor can we accept predatory expansion when common sense suggests that Airport growth to 2040 should be calibrated to increased provision of public transport, the geo-social limitations of the site, and the introduction of new technologies such as low-emission, ‘whispering’ aircraft. All as part of a network of regional provision that includes Cardiff and Exeter.
Finally you will also be aware that there are serious concerns about the competence of North Somerset Council to take a properly considered decision on this complex application. There are also doubts about whether the Council’s decision will be the result of a fair and unbiased examination of all the arguments for and against the application.