Backing for Bristol Airport as it seeks to overturn council’s grounding of its expansion plans

February 19, 2021

The South West CBI has backed Bristol Airport’s appeal against the decision by North Somerset Council last year to refuse its expansion.

The council’s planning committee went against their own officers’ recommendation last February to throw out the scheme, which sought to increase the airport’s capacity to handle 12m passengers a year. 

At the time – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic forced its near closure – the airport expected to breach the 10m restriction on its current planning permission within months.

The airport’s owner Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said the plans would have generated an extra £1.4bn for the regional economy over 10 years and create 800 jobs on-site and a further 5,000 around the region.

Ahead of the deadline to submit comments to the Planning Inspectorate, CBI South West deputy director Ben Rhodes, pictured, said the increased connectivity which Bristol Airport’s expansion would deliver could be an important part of a South West economic recovery which places sustainability at its heart.

“Bristol Airport is one of the key drivers of prosperity for North Somerset, Bristol, and the South West, supporting nearly 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributing around £1.7bn to the regional economy,” he added.

“Expansion proposals will help meet the region’s growing demand for air travel, create new international opportunities for the South West’s world class businesses, and be a significant step towards the Government’s levelling-up ambitions.

Bristol Airport is the UK’s fifth busiest outside London and has been one of the fastest growing for years. 

The airport’s owner Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said its expansion plans would offer passengers more routes and flights from the South West directly, create jobs, facilitate inward investment and inbound tourism, and support greener and more sustainable, regional economic growth.

It also argues that increasing capacity would persuade more people from the South West and South Wales to fly from Bristol rather than drive to airports in London or further afield.

The airport has submitted new information on the environmental impact of the expansion, along with new parking forecasts, to the Planning Inspectorate.

At the time of the original decision last year, the South West CBI described it as “a real blow to Bristol and the wider South West”.

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