Bristol Airport expansion plans to be challenged in High Court

A group of campaigners is planning to appeal to the High Court against a decision to allow the expansion of Bristol Airport.

The transport hub was given the green light by the Planning Inspectorate in February.

But Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) has now said it plans to appeal against the latest decision.

The airport had initially been refused permission by North Somerset Council in 2020 after the local authority decided environmental and societal impacts outweighed the economic benefits of the expansion.

The expansion was also opposed by Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, and the West of England Combined Authority.

But the airport argued the expansion, which will see it increase its capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers a year while adding thousands more parking spaces, would be good for the region’s economy.

Its proposals have been backed by UK business body CBI , which said the expansion would help meet the region’s growing demand for air travel, create new international opportunities for South West businesses and be a “significant step” towards the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Solicitors acting on behalf of BAAN issued papers to the High Court on Tuesday (March 15) for a Statutory Appeal under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

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The group claims the plans ignore the importance of local carbon budgets and do not adequately consider the extra non-carbon emissions that would be caused by the expansion.

Stephen Clarke, one of the coordinators of BAAN, said: “This decision is so damaging for the local people and the climate that it simply cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.

“By supporting BAL’s arguments, the inspectors have effectively agreed that the UK Government has policies which actually support airport expansion, despite the climate and ecological crisis and the UK’s legal obligation to reach net zero by 2050.”

BAAN, which set up a crowdfund to cover its legal fees, said it raised more than £20,000 in two weeks.

Tarisha Finnegan-Clarke, from BAAN’s coordinating committee, said: “This airport expansion is not wanted; nor is it needed. We contest this outrageous decision on behalf of the local residents whose lives are already blighted by the airport and the many parish, town and city councils that have declared climate emergencies.”

A spokesperson for Bristol Airport said: “We have been made aware of BAAN CC’s intention to challenge the recent Independent Planning Inspectors’ decision but as we have received no indication of the grounds of any challenge, we are unable to comment further.”

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Hannah BakerSouth West Business Editor