Councillors gave seven reasons for refusal:
1. The additional noise, traffic and off-airport car parking would result in adverse environmental impacts on communities.
Council policy “expressly requires” plans for Bristol Airport to “demonstrate the satisfactory resolution” of environmental issues, including the impact on surrounding communities and roads.
2. The proposed development does not make a sustainable contribution to economic objectives due to the scale of outbound leisure travel, and with low skilled jobs at the airport giving way to automation it is uncertain that expansion will deliver additional and sustainable jobs.
National policy says a balance has to be struck between the positive economic impact of flights and the negative impacts on health, quality of life and productivity.
3. Lifting seasonal restrictions on night flights would have serious adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of residents.
Council policy says any development that would result in pollution or harm people’s health will “only be permitted if the potential adverse effects would be mitigated”.
4. The proposed increase in passenger numbers would exacerbate climate change and would not help the transition to a low carbon future.
5. There would be an adverse impact on wildlife habitats and would not boost biodiversity.
6. Extending the silver zone car park and allowing the seasonal car park to be used year-round is inappropriate development in the green belt and there are no “very special circumstances” that outweigh the harm.
7. The proposed public transport provision is inadequate and will not sufficiently reduce the reliance on the car. The result would be an unacceptable increase in traffic volumes, congestion and parking.
Cllr Don Davies, Leader of North Somerset Council: ‘What the [Planning] Committee has considered is that the detrimental effect of the expansion of the Airport on this area and the wider impact on the environment outweighs the narrower benefits to Airport expansion. I know some people will be upset by this decision and I am sure that we can reconsider it in future when the airline industry has decarbonised and the public transport links to the airport are far stronger.’ [note 1]
Councillor Steve Hogg, who led Council opposition to the Airport planning application, said: “We must weigh the benefits, which flow towards the airport, its shareholders, [and] pension funds … against the unbearable burdens that will fall on the local community and the environment.” [note 2]
3. Since North Somerset Council threw out the application, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the planned expansion of Heathrow Airport is unlawful because it fails to take account of the Government’s commitment to tackle climate change. This ruling was recently reversed by the Supreme Court. The Heathrow question is therefore still unresolved but UK national emissions targets for 2030 and beyond cannot be met if expansion is allowed at both Heathrow and regional airports.