Cllr Steve Hogg’s speech addressing the ‘Common Ground’ anti-Airport expansion rally on Felton Common. 29th August 2020
“Back in February, I sat with my colleagues in the Council Chamber at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall, and presented the reasons why i believed, and continue to believe, that the expansion of Bristol Airport should be resisted and refused.
I argued that:
- the proposals did not resolve the many environmental issues and impacts that expansion would bring.
- North Somerset’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change were not adequately addressed
- the policy which requires biodiversity to be maintained and enhanced was not adequately addressed
- wanting more space to park thousands of additional cars does not in any way equate to exceptional circumstances that would justify further encroachment into the green belt
- And perhaps most crucially of all….. North Somerset Council’s (NSC) core strategy states: “the future planning of … Bristol airport will be guided by the need to balance the advantages of economic growth with the need to control the impacts on those who live nearby and on the natural environment.” In other words, the harms must not outweigh the perceived economic benefit, and yet they so obviously will.
80% of the planning committee at NSC agreed with me, and permission was refused.
It was a great day to be a local councillor, and a victory for democracy, informed as it was by evidence-based fact, rather than financial gain and the greed of a single business with overseas ownership. It was, and still is, the right decision
It is so sad and disappointing that now, some 6 months later, with the aviation industry in the wilderness, and local authorities struggling to cope in the wake of a global pandemic, that Bristol Airport finds it necessary to drag the Council and the communities that it represents through the financial and emotional wringer of a lengthy and expensive appeal.
But we must and we will take strength from each other during the weeks and months ahead. This is not a struggle with North Somerset council or between different groups. This is about standing together, united in our opposition to the expansion of the airport, whatever the diversity of our political views and outlook on life
A guiding coalition of mutual respect and support –that my friends, is common ground!
And what a formidable group we are:
Highly committed individual Councillors like me, the local authority supported by a world class legal team, our Members of Parliament John Penrose and Liam Fox, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE), the Parish Council’s Airport Association (PCAA), the Parish Councils, Extinction Rebellion, the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion campaign (SBAEx), the EasyJet pilots union (can you believe), Greta Thunberg, Chris Packham, Massive Attack, and many many more. WHAT A POWERHOUSE OF ENERGY AND COMMITMENT…..
But more importantly, the individual voices of those who’s daily experience of living under the growing shadow of the Airport need to be heard now more than ever, and we need them to play a big part in this appeal.
So yes, we mourn the losses that expansion of the airport would undoubtedly bring, but we do so full of hope and optimism that this fight is far from over, and far from lost.
And you have my commitment as the district councillor with an international airport in his ward, that i will continue to fight for what is right for my community, and for neighbouring communities. I will support North Somerset council in defending the appeal, and I will work with anyone and everyone who will roll up their sleeves to help.
To win – we must seize and hold that common ground – and we can find common ground only by moving to higher ground. Thanks everyone, and good luck today.