Extinction Rebellion challenges Bristol Airport attempt to overturn council’s no-expansion decision
Activists take to the streets (and beaches) in Weston-super-Mare tomorrow [Tuesday 20 July] on the first day of the legal inquiry into the appeal launched by Bristol Airport.
Just over a year ago North Somerset Council voted against the application to expand Bristol Airport’s airport’s capacity, in a landmark success for local councils standing up to the influence of internationally-owned aviation businesses.
Bristol Airport is 100% owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which has net assets of $221.2 billion, and also owns part of Birmingham, London City, Copenhagen and Brussels airports.
No such thing as a “green airport” say activists
Bristol Airport has consistently promoted its “green” credentials, with the stated aim of being “carbon neutral for direct emissions” by 2025.
“The airport’s claims would be laughable, if they weren’t deadly serious,” says Bristol Extinction Rebellion activist Dr Emma Geen.
“They base that target on only calculating the climate impact of the airport building itself, and its surrounding ground services. The massive climate cost of the flights in and out of the airport are completely ignored.
“They want us to imagine that the climate impact of an airport can be measured against the same criteria as a children’s playground.”
An expanded Bristol Airport would allow for an extra 23,800 flights a year, including night flights between 1am and 6am, resulting in an additional one million tonnes of carbon emissions, and 10,000 more car movements per day.
Public opinion against expansion
Activists will take to the streets of Weston-super-Mare for the first three days of the 10-week public inquiry, to ensure that local decision-makers are in no doubt about the strength of public opinion on this issue.
An overwhelming 84% of local residents who responded to the original planning application were against expansion.
The residents of Bristol and Somerset who want to use the airport for convenient holiday flights are able to do so at the airport’s current capacity, activists say.
Figures show that the greatest impact from air travel comes from just 15% of air travellers who are frequent flyers, and account for 70% of flights a year.
- On Tuesday morning Bristol artist Luke Jerram’s famous artwork “Gaia” will greet councillors and inspectors as they enter the first morning of the hearing. Onlookers will have a chance to see this stunning replica of the Earth which has toured around the world and will now be displayed outside Weston-super-Mare Town Hall to signify the importance of the decision that will be made. There will be a “Flight to Mass Extinction” massed “die-in” of species at risk of extinction outside the Town Hall [9.30am].
- On Wednesday 21 [10am – 1pm] a life-sized aeroplane and runway will appear on the beach by the pier. The “Greenwash Busters” will be sucking up the airport’s greenwash [11am and 1pm] outside Weston-super-Mare Town Hall. And a moving parade of Penitents around town will call attention to the sins of the airport [12 noon – 1pm].
- On Thursday 22, as the summer holidays begin, a noisy march through town will wake up the inspectors as they leave the Town Hall on the third day of the inquiry [2 – 4pm].
Airport expansion this year would be a “national disgrace”
Bristol parent and ex-teacher Darcy Mitchell of Easton says: “The science now shows us there has never been a good time for expanding airports: the effects of climate change are so extreme, and so damaging for our planet, and our children.
“But for an airport expansion to be approved in the very year when the UK is hosting the COP26 climate summit – that would be a national and international disgrace.
“I want to say to the airport’s owners, who are pursuing this relentless drive for growth: how can you live with yourselves when you’re putting profits ahead of human lives?
“For a Canadian organisation to still be pursuing this strategy, when they’re experiencing the devastating effects of the climate crisis themselves this year, is madness.
“Five hundred people have died as a result of the climate catastrophe in western Canada last month. I wouldn’t want my teacher’s pension fund to be destroying my children’s future.”