Extinction Rebellion Bristol has organised a day of campaigning on issues surrounding transport and climate this Saturday – 30th July.  The event will start at 10am with supporters gathering on Queens Square where there will be an information hub, speakers, arts activities and block printing as well as a space for families.  A march is planned is planned from midday which is likely to cause some traffic disruption on the city centre roads. 

The day will highlight three key demands.   

Stop Airport Expansion.  Extinction Rebellion Bristol restates its opposition for plans to expand Bristol Airport.  Over the past 3 years Extinction Rebellion have been key supporters of  Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) in their campaigning to stop the airport expanding from 10 million passengers per annum to 12 mppa. The airport’s plans have been stalled as it awaits the outcome of a High Court case initiated by BAAN that challenges the legality of the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to allow the expansion to go ahead. The hearing will be in Bristol on 8th-9th November.  The outcry of opposition from local parish, town and city councils, Members of Parliament, WECA as well as many local residents and campaigners have been outraged that the airport has been given permission to expand at a time when World governments have been accused of failing to drastically reduce carbon emissions to avert the worst effects of climate change. 

Ben Moss who lives in the Chew Valley area has been a long-time campaigner to stop airport expansion.  He says, “ Earlier this month we witnessed the tarmac on airport runways meting as the UK sweltered in the highest temperatures ever recorded.  The need to drastically reduce CO2 emissions is so urgent yet we are having to campaign tirelessly to fend off Bristol Airport from expanding. The opposition to airport expansion is clear – from the local community up to the Government’s own Climate Change Committee – yet Bristol Airport is arrogantly ignoring these calls.  They are hell-bent on harming the lives of local residents, our children’s futures and our planet as a whole.” 

Fair Fares for Everyone.  Traffic congestion and pollution have been real problems for the city for decades and time is well overdue for real and tangible action that encourages people to get out of their cars and support local public transport.  A National Audit Office survey conducted in 2020 [1] found that 57% of motorists would drive less if bus fares were lower and services improved. 

Extinction Rebellion Youth Bristol (XRYB) is currently campaigning for free bus travel for young people to help alleviate the cost of living crisis but also because the policy would reduce carbon emissions. Their demands are not unprecedented.  Greater London already has free bus travel for under 18s, Scotland has introduced a fee bus pass for all under 22 and parts of Greater Manchester are serviced by entirely free buses.  Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, has admitted that a better bus service is crucial in achieving WECA’s ambitious target to be net-zero by 2030. [2] 

Public Ownership of Public Transport.  Since the privatisation and deregulation of bus and train services throughout the 1980s and 1990s the public have had to endure rising prices and reduced services as making profits for shareholders is the main goal.  We are not getting value for money and for many people public transport does not serve their needs.  With public ownership, the city could transition more easily to zero emission fleets, accessible to all, with the planet and communities placed ahead of profit. 

Luke Lanyon-Hogg, spokesperson for XR Bristol said, “We face a climate emergency and we need to urgently rethink how we travel around the area. As a non-driver public transport is very important to me and the state of Bristol buses makes me angry. Over the past 5 years I’ve seen the price of a day ticket go up by two pounds, while the number of services is going down. I have no objection to my taxes subsidising public transport, but I want to see all that money go to improving services, not into the pockets of shareholders. Private ownership of any public service is inefficient because money is lost paying shareholders. Public transport should be for people not for profit. The environmental and health benefits are clear, more people taking buses means less vehicles on the road which means less emissions. We have just had a red weather warning in this country and time has run out so we must prioritise people and planet before profit.”