Campaigners make last-ditch plea to Weca leaders to oppose Bristol Airport expansion [Bristol Live, 31/01/20]
Campaigners against Bristol Airport’s expansion made one last impassioned plea to the region’s civic chiefs to reverse their support.
Protesters were out in force at City Hall’s council chamber on Friday (January 31) urging the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) to write a letter of opposition to North Somerset Council planners, who will decide the application on February 10.
It came as scrutiny councillors accused Weca of having its priorities wrong if it was serious about tackling climate change and said the £250,000 it had so far assigned to the issue was nowhere near enough.
The organisation declared a climate emergency last July, following the lead of the three local authorities which comprise it — Bristol city, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils.
Weca is preparing a climate emergency action plan to be unveiled this spring.
Splits have previously emerged in the combined authority’s stance on the airport expansion since B&NES lodged an objection to the plans to increase annual passenger numbers by a fifth to 12million by 2025, which are recommended for approval.
Campaigners speaking during the Weca committee’s public forum urged its members — metro mayor Tim Bowles, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, B&NES leader Dine Romero and South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage — to throw their weight behind calls to oppose the proposals.
Hilary Burn, Parish Councils Airport Association chairwoman and a Cleeve parish councillor, said: “We are asking you to change the Weca letter of January 2019 from support to objection.”
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She said the letter was “totally out of date” because it referred to the Joint Spatial Plan, the region’s housing blueprint which was thrown out by government inspectors last summer.
Campaigner Liz Rees said: “I was heartened to learn that Weca had declared a climate emergency in response to growing public demands to commit to carbon neutrality.
“But talk is cheap and I haven’t seen or read anything which would suggest real change is happening.
“Why has Weca not opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport?