Councillors have rejected Todd Architects’ major expansion of Bristol Airport because of fears over its impact on climate change
Bristol Airport wants to boost its capacity from 10 million passengers per year to 12 million and sought permission for two extensions to the terminal building and the erection of new east walkway and pier.
But in a victory for environmental campaigners, North Somerset Council’s planning committee voted 18 to seven against the plans, which had been recommended for approval by planning officers.
At the end of a four-hour meeting, councillors cited environmental concerns as reasons for refusal. Councillor John Ley-Morgan said: ‘How can we achieve our ambition for carbon neutrality by 2030 if we approve this decision?’
The four-storey extension to the terminal would have provided 11,000m² of additional floor space with a separate two-storey extension adding a further 3,600m² of space.
The plans also included a 5m-high acoustic fence, a new service yard and a multistorey car park to the north-west of the terminal.
Councillors stated that the environmental impact of the expansion outweighed its economic benefits.
Over 8,000 members of the public had opposed the application, while 2,400 had written in support of it. Among the groups opposing the expansion was the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group in Bristol.
Bristol Airport first opened in 1957, and was initially expanded in the 1960s A new terminus opened in 2000 to accommodate the growth in passenger numbers.
In 2011 the airport secured permission to increase capacity from 7.2 million passengers per year to 10 million. The airport currently serves 8.9 million passengers a year and is expected to reach capacity in 2021.
In a statement Bristol Airport said: ‘We are disappointed by the decision of North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee to recommend refusal of our planning application to increase Bristol Airport’s capacity from 10 to 12 million passengers a year, contrary to the recommendation of the council’s own planning officers.
‘This decision risks putting the brakes on the region’s economy by turning away airlines who want to serve the South West market, shutting the door to international trade and tourism at a time when the UK needs to show it is open for business.
‘By preventing Bristol Airport from meeting demand for air travel from within the region it serves, the council will simply exacerbate the situation which already sees millions of passengers a year from our region drive to London airports in order to fly, creating carbon emissions and congestion in the process.’
Todd Architects has been contacted for comment.