Airport expansion ruling ‘catastrophic for planet’

Rich Prior, of Keynsham Extinction Rebellion, gives his reaction to the ruling to allow Bristol Airport to expand.

On Tuesday January 31, the devastating news was announced that the High Court appeal to stop the expansion of Bristol Airport had failed.

Keynsham XR, as well as so many others, were outraged. The decision is undemocratic, with so much opposition from local people, local authorities, WECA (West of England Combined Authority) and local MPs.

It is catastrophic news for the planet. Flying by the relatively few has such significant impact on our planet and the climate catastrophe, the recent flooding in Keynsham being a relatively insignificant example.

It is concerning that the airport wish to double the number of annual flights, from 10 million to 20 million. In the last year they flew 7.6 million and even at their peak pre-Covid hadn’t reached anywhere near 10 million, so the airport is clearly big enough.

Also, it gives the green light to about 20 other regional airports that also want to expand.

It is difficult to understand how the airport get away with their dishonest statements regarding their carbon neutrality, when it does not take into account the emissions of planes flying from the airport or the car journeys driving to it.

It is ironic that they are keen to increase the number of car journeys to the airport through our minor roads, with no encouragement to use public transport – it is obvious that they make their profits from exorbitant car parking fees.

They also make exaggerated claims regarding increasing the number of jobs. They have a very poor record on this over previous years when they have expanded. The airport’s ‘masterplan’ promised 1,200 new jobs by 2015. The airport’s own figures show that by 2015 there were only an additional 165 jobs.

They make false claims too about it being good for local business. Far more people fly out of the airport to spend billions of pounds abroad than fly in to support the local economy and local tourism.

It is very unfortunate that the law seems not to support local democracy.

The Government has stood aside and not intervened, despite the Paris agreement and Parliament’s Climate Change Committee (CCC).

It is left to the voluntary work of those of us that are trying to protect the planet, including the awesome BAAN (Bristol Airport Action Network). Happily, they have decided to issue an application to the Court of Appeal, because science is on our side and local people don’t want this expansion.

The public again showed their support, and in three days managed to raise the initial funds to lodge the appeal.
Keynsham XR are determined to rally with the local community to ensure the expansion is thwarted. The fight continues.

Editor’s note: Since this article was published, the Court of Appeal has ruled that BAAN’s appeal had “no real prospect of success”, paving the way for the expansion to go ahead. But BAAN has said it will resist any plans by the airport to expand further in the future.