Extinction Rebellion Bristol applauds councillors’ courageous decision on Bristol Airport

Photography credit: Simon Holliday

Extinction Rebellion Bristol congratulates North Somerset councillors on staying on the right side of history by voting against plans to expand Bristol Airport.

This evening’s historic meeting of the North Somerset Council Planning Committee at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall saw 18 councillors vote to reject the expansion of the airport, with only seven voting to expand (and one abstention).

We would like to thank the planning committee for hearing the pleas of more than 8,900 residents who formally lodged objections to the plans, far outweighing the 2,431 responses for expansion.

This momentous decision came hot on the heels of Bristol becoming the first city to declare an ecological emergency and directly after a weekend of lively actions and protests from environmental campaigners, including XR Bristol.

On Saturday hundreds of protesters marched through the centre of Weston-super-Mare and conducted a mass die-in outside the Town Hall. In a desperate move, members of XR Bristol headed to the beach to bury their heads in the sand – a poignant comment on what the planning committee would be doing if they let the decision go ahead. They were joined by a giant 3.5-metre high ostrich.

Ben Moss, Chew Valley resident and local rebel, said:

“I feel relief, joy and hope. This feels like total vindication for citizens in Bristol and North Somerset who are concerned about climate change. It has been a long campaign, and we are tired but happy that this courageous decision was taken by the planning committee.

“We will use this victory to give us the hope and energy to tackle our next challenge. We are part of turning the tide towards a more environmentally conscious society, where people are coming together to meet the biggest challenge, we all face – the climate and ecological emergency.”

What next?

While this decision to reject the expansion of the airport has given us hope that real change is possible, we would like to remind local authorities and powers in Westminster that there’s no room for complacency on the climate crisis. We would like to see some genuinely radical action by governments to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025. We know what it will take to achieve this – a properly mandated and resourced Citizens’ Assembly. 

We’re ready for the airport to appeal the decision, which could cost the council, and therefore hard-working taxpayers, up to £100,000. The hardest and most important victories are never easily won, and we will not rest until we are sure that the threat of airport expansion is fully extinguished. We’ll continue to use non-violent civil disobedience to make sure Bristol and the communities we love are safe from such reckless development.

In the coming weeks we will be making our presence known during a series of peaceful actions in and around Bristol Airport.

In the meantime, we would like to thank North Somerset councillors for saying NO to:

  • What scientists predicted would have been three million extra tonnes of carbon generated by an increase of up to 12 million passengers.
  • 10,000 extra cars a day clogging up the already congested roads of North Somerset.
  • The loss of greenbelt land to multi-story car parks.
  • More air pollution, and the noise created by 4,000 unrestricted night flights between 11.30pm and 6am.
  • An airport that claims to be going carbon neutral by 2025 but fails to mention that the figures exclude every single flight made to and from the airport.
  • 50% more flights, which would create one million tonnes of additional carbon emissions.

Stay tuned for local actions and events.