Hilary Burn: a presentation to the Executive Committee of North Somerset Council 11th September 2019
I am speaking here as an elected Parish Councillor and on behalf of the Parish Councils Airport Association representing over 21 parishes. Parishes within the Association have all objected to the application.
The large number of objections to the Airport application reflects a desire for radical change within the area.
The main reason the Airport was capped at 10 mppa was inadequate road infrastructure. However I wish to address one issue – car parking. This affects two current applications: the Airport application to grow to 12 mppa and the Mead Realisation application known as J21. These two applications are interconnected.
To date Bristol Airport has still not built the Multi Storey Car Park 2 nor the Public Transport Interchange. The 2009 Airport application consent was originally conditional on the completion of these developments for 9 million passengers per annum (mppa). The Airport predicts 9 mppa this year. These developments should be completed before 10 mppa.
At the last Airport Consultative Meeting in July, I asked the Airport when these were to be completed. No time frame was given. However, if planning consent is granted this autumn, the Airport will commence additional car parking for 2,700 in December on open Green Belt land. There are already 3,650 existing car parking spaces within the Silver Zone and the total will then be 6,350 if consent is granted. This will clearly adversely affect the openness of that land and is inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The Airport, of course, will continually request Green Belt as this is the cheapest option for extending car parking capacity – and increasing the huge profits that are generated by parking.
We oppose the entirety of the Airport’s application but if the Council comes to a different conclusion I hope it will see the good sense in:
- Requiring the Airport to construct the Multi Storey Car Park 2 and Public Transport Interchange before any further permissions are granted for additional car parking space on Green Belt land.
- Going further to avoid additional use of Green Belt land for car parking by approving an alternative site such as J21.
The Airport’s Green Belt land is just under 2 km away from roosts of the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe, a protected species in a Special Area of Conservation. The Airport application would bring a Net Environmental Loss to the area. To make up for the loss of foraging for bats the Airport is having to purchase nearby woodland as mitigation. But the crazy thing is that they then need to cut down trees to make the area accessible for foraging! We are entering a period of extinction of biodiversity and the Airport expansion is only going to make it worse.
The solution centres on the use of parking at J21 for the following reasons:
J21 will take cars off the A370 and will help move us to a lower carbon economy by running small, eco mini-buses. The Airport states that the application will undermine their desire to increase the public transport proportion of passenger journeys to 15% at 12 mppa but without explaining their rationale. The PCAA have to remind North Somerset Council that this target was set to be achieved at 10 mppa. It is currently 12.5% and not expected to reach 15% at 2021 when the Airport predicts 10 mppa. The J21 project will, in fact, help with this issue.
Note that the Airport is introducing a carbon levy on the ‘meet and greet’ car park to offset emissions from all surface access journeys and to encourage the use of public transport. This should clearly be on all car parking areas at the Airport.
There is no doubt that the thousands of objectors and parishes want the Airport application refused on the grounds of the climate emergency and other impact on health and wellbeing. The low risk option for NSC is to refuse the application:
- There are enough valid grounds to turn down the application
- Any legal costs will be small compared with the investment needed to accommodate Airport growth (roads etc.)
- The vastly increased road traffic will make things much harder and more expensive for NSC to meet its carbon reduction commitments
We welcome the new location on the Airport site for taxis to wait rather than using local roads but we remind councillors this is only resolving issues under the 10 mppa application. We look forward to enforcement of car parking on local roads throughout parishes – a current and difficult problem that will only get worse with Airport expansion.