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Bristol Airport can grow says High Court

1 February 2023
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Bristol Airport's long-running planning application to expand capacity from the current limit of 10 million passengers per annum to 12 million has been allowed to go ahead, the High Court ruled yesterday, which rejected a campaign appealing against the decision.

The expansion will include a larger terminal, improved public transport and road infrastructure.

Bristol Airport is the main airport for the South-West of England, providing international and domestic flights. It opened in 1957 and handled 33,000 passengers in its first year of operation. The airport expanded steadily through the 1960s, 70s and 80s driven partly by the popularity and affordability of foreign holidays. Planning permission was granted in 1995 for a replacement passenger terminal and re-routing part of the A38 next to the airport.

At that time BA handled 2.1 million passengers per annum. This increased to 3.9 million passengers per annum by 2003 and 6.3 mppa by million passengers per annum.

The decision, published last February, acknowledged that there was, and remains, a significant level of opposition to the proposed scheme. The inspectors said then: "We realise that our decision will come as a major disappointment to those people who spoke passionately in opposition to the proposal. In coming to our decision, the protests of individuals, communities, Members of Parliament, action groups, technical experts and others were fully heard and carefully considered by the Panel.

"Taking the above together, the Panel consider that the benefits arising from the proposed development are as such that they would clearly outweigh the harm to Green Belt and the harm to noise, so as to amount to very special circumstances."

Bristol Airport Action Network, which appealed the decision which led to yesterday's announcement, says "Our position is that this airport expansion (and others that are planned across the UK) is not legally compliant with the Climate Change Act, The Paris Agreement and the Government’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 and must be stopped."


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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