Airport decision ‘real blow’ to South West economy, say regional business leaders

February 12, 2020

Business organisations have slammed the decision by North Somerset councillors to reject Bristol Airport’s expansion plans.

The CBI in the region described the move “a real blow to Bristol and the wider South West” while the Federation of Small Businesses echoed the airport’s own claims that it would force people to drive out of the region to catch flights – so damaging the environment. 

The council’s planning committee went against their own officers’ recommendation on Monday evening to throw out the expansion plan by 18 to 7.

The airport’s owner Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan had wanted permission to increase the airport’s capacity to handle 12m passengers a year – up from the 10m restriction in its current planning permission, which the airport is expected to reach next year.

It claimed 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.

Giving the expansion the thumbs down could deter some airlines from using Bristol – the UK’s fifth busiest outside London – in the future, the airport also claimed.

CBI deputy regional director Ben Rhodes, pictured left, said:“This project would help further extend the reach of our region and help put us in the shop window of the world. 

“Simply put, this project would help create jobs, growth and investment in the South West and we should not put it at risk.”

He said the decision left the “perverse situation” of having people drive out of our region to fly.

“That is bad for our economy and bad for our environment,” he added. “In a post-Brexit world we need schemes like this and this awful news will hurt many businesses in the South West.

“On a day that HS2 is announced for the North we have rejected a major infrastructure scheme in the South West. The CBI believes we must not be left behind.”

FSB development manager for Gloucestershire and Bristol, Sam Holliday, pictured below, said the organisation felt the airport had put forward a strong argument that expansion would be good for the economy and good for both local jobs and the local business supply chain. 

“We are passionately committed to ensuring a green and sustainable future and understand the real concerns many people have about such expansions,” he added. “But we felt the airport was working hard to reduce and offset the environmental impact that would have been created by its plans.

“The figures consistently show that people still do want to fly for both personal and business reasons and by stopping Bristol expanding the worry is that we will just be sending ever more  people onto our already crowded road network to access other airports in in the South East instead.”.



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