Friday 8th March
In response to the interview with John Darvall please write to Cllr Nigel Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org
The interview is available for a limited period https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p070nhdl
On Radio Bristol this morning, Councillor Nigel Ashton, leader of North Somerset Council, made a number of partisan and poorly informed assertions about the regional contribution of Bristol Airport.
Cllr Ashton claimed Bristol Airport is a ‘successful business’. By what criteria? Much of the need for rapid, predatory growth is driven by the need to repay debts incurred for investment and shore up the operating loss from aviation by increasing income from retail outlets and, above all, car parks. No stable business tries to grow by 50% in a couple of years other than speculative hi-tech start-ups
Cllr Ashton claimed a lot more employment will result from expansion. BA claims about 1000 extra jobs. However the only claim for additional direct employment as opposed to secondary employment (e.g. contractors) is around 90 jobs to South Bristol and fewer to North Somerset. The remainder commute from elsewhere, many from beyond the region. The employment is mostly low-wage zero-hours type work (take a look at the job opportunities on the Airport website). Middle and upper-management and technical roles would be filled nationally and internationally. In any expansion, technology will replace people wherever possible and conceivably reduce employment below current levels.
Cllr Ashton claimed that airport expansion will reduce traffic from Bristol to other airports. He made no mention of the additional traffic coming from South Wales (with bridge tolls removed), from the South West areas and other areas served by the M4 and M5 that will underpin the expansion of passenger numbers.
Cllr Ashton claims that the traffic problems will be resolved by a train link from Temple Meads to the Airport. This is almost delusional, grasping at distant straws.
It’s essential to help Cllr Ashton get up to speed, reminding him of …
… the problems of expansion
This regional Airport, based on a small rural site with shortest-but-one runway in the UK, now wants to expand to size of London Luton.
This will impact on quality of life in North Somerset and South Bristol and the glocal (local /global) challenges to the environment through:
– increased aviation emissions from 23,880 extra flights
– ground-based emissions from 34% increase in road traffic
– traffic congestion from an additional 9,500 vehicles daily
– … leading to parking sprawl, legal and illegal at cost of destruction of Green Belt landscape and wildlife habitat
– greater noise pollution, especially from increased night flights (over 2000)
– more light pollution and other nuisance e.g. litter and additional dangerous traffic in lanes seeking parking
– spreading landscape blight cf new admin building on skyline
The benefits …??
The Canadian and Australian owners of Bristol Airport have developed a predatory business model exploiting the lack of public transport in order to (a) expand profitable parking (b) pump up asset value
What is the evidence of additional benefits to North Somerset and the region from expansion?
Is it worth it?
Over 2300 people who responded to planning application 83% and growing have said a forceful NO!
What’s the alternative?
This application is extremely premature, not least because a number of regional and national policy frameworks are still in a state of flux. A new master plan is needed for a sustainable airport as part of a regional network, with any growth calibrated to elements such the natural limitations of the site, aviation and traffic emissions targets, transport infrastructure and technological developments rather than simply feeding an anticipated demand frenzy.
There are many other points. For example…
– North Somerset recently declared a ‘Climate Change Emergency’. How does he reconcile this with increased traffic and aviation emissions with national and West of England Combined Authority targets of 50% reduction in vehicle emissions by 2035
– Bristol Airport is 85% a tourist airport and funnels money from the region
– Will North Somerset grant permission to a private contractor to open a carbon-neutral park-and-ride at Junction 21 on the M5 for 3000 cars? This would relieve the need for the Airport to expand into the Green Belt and reduce pressure on access roads at a stroke … and much else beside