Airport Master Plan for next 30 Years - Consultation

TheLocalYokel

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A think tank called the New Economics Foundation believes that the impact on climate change has been grossly understated by the airport in its planning expansion application. The report ranges over all UK airports currently looking to expand.

This think tank promotes social, economic and environmental justice all of which are subjective, so its conclusions on this issue cannot be seen as a major surprise.
 

TheLocalYokel

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The three planning inspectors who conducted the public enquiry into Stansted Airport's appeal against the refusal of their local planning authority to approve their growth application have unanimously allowed the airport's appeal with costs awarded against the local authority.

The application allows a far greater increase in passenger numbers than the number that Bristol is seeking.

This is certainly not a binding precedent when it comes to the BRS appeal but it must increase the hope that the appeal will ultimately be allowed. The North Somerset planning committee was warned by its senior planning officer who recommended approval that the authority risked being liable for substantial costs if it refused the application and the decision was overturned on appeal.

 

BRSregular

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Are the expansion plans and the decision that is soon to be made ‘all or nothing’? What I mean by that is, if the decision is to reject the cap being raised to 12mppa, could they still approve the new car parks and the bus terminal etc? I think that is so important to the airport. The current sloping gravel long stay car park makes the airport a bit of a laughing stock and really hope this, at the very least, can be approved.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Are the expansion plans and the decision that is soon to be made ‘all or nothing’? What I mean by that is, if the decision is to reject the cap being raised to 12mppa, could they still approve the new car parks and the bus terminal etc? I think that is so important to the airport. The current sloping gravel long stay car park makes the airport a bit of a laughing stock and really hope this, at the very least, can be approved.
Below is the overall planning application (in italics) as set out on North Somerset Council website.

Some matters were approved in outline at previous planning committee meetings some years ago. The Public Transport Interchange (PTI) appears to be one of these because it does not from part of the application being appealed. Last October the airport said they were pressing ahead with the PTI and had submitted details to NS Council presumably having previously gained outline planning permission. The current appeal is against refusal of the entire planning application.

https://www.bristolairport.co.uk/ab...r-substantial-improvement-in-public-transport

Outline planning application, with some reserved matters included and others reserved for subsequent approval, for the development of Bristol Airport to enable a throughput of 12 million terminal passengers in any 12-month calendar period, comprising:

2no. extensions to the terminal building and canopies over the forecourt of the main terminal entrance;

erection of new east walkway and pier with vertical circulation cores and pre-board zones;

5m high acoustic timber fence;

Construction of a new service yard;

erection of a multi-storey car park north west of the terminal building with five levels providing approximately 2,150 spaces;

enhancement to the internal road system including gyratory road with internal surface car parking and layout changes;

enhancements to airside infrastructure including construction of new eastern taxiway link and taxiway widening (and fillets) to the southern edge of Taxiway ‘GOLF’;

the year-round use of the existing Silver Zone car park extension (known as ‘Cogloop Phase 1’) with associate permanent (fixed) lighting and CCTV;

extension to the Silver Zone car park to provide approximately 2,700 spaces (known as ‘Cogloop Phase 2’);

the provision of on-site renewable energy generation

improvements to the A38 and its junction with Downside Road;

operating within a rolling annual cap of 4,000 night-flight between the hours of 23:30 and 06:00 with no seasonal restrictions;

revision to the operation of Stands 38 and 39;

landscaping and associated works
 

TheLocalYokel

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I'e been having a browse around the Internet to try to discover the latest situation with BRS's appeal.

I've discovered that a panel of three planning inspectors will determine the appeal (although the secretary of state could always 'recover' the appeal to make the decision himself, taking into account the planning inspectors' recommendations, albeit they are not binding on him). The planning inspectors are:

Mr Phillip Ware BSc (Hons) DipTP MRTPI (Lead)

Mrs Claire Searson MSc PGDip BSc (Hons) MRTPI IHBC

Mr Dominic Young JP BSc (Hons) MA MRTPI MIHE

There have already been preliminary meetings to decide procedures. The public enquiry element will begin on 20 July and is currently estimated to last 40 days. However, there will be a two-week break in the second half of August and a week's break in the third week of September.

It's hoped that most of the public enquiry will be in the form of a physical presence although that will depend on government advice and the law re the pandemic measures at the time.

I'm not a planning expert but it seems that interested parties with a substantive case can apply for 'Rule 6' status which if granted allows them to submit statements of case.

So far it appears that the following have submitted such statements:

Bristol Action Network
British Airlines Pilots Association (BALPA)
North Somerset Council
Parish Councils Airport Association
Bristol Airport Limited
Sutherland Properties and Legal Services
XR Elders

Sutherland acts for a man who has an alternative airport parking site; XR Elders is a group of older people concerned about Climate Change apparently connected with Extinction Rebellion; Bristol Action Network and the Parish Councils Airport Association oppose the expansion.

North Somerset Council will be using consultants instead of their own professional planning officers who recommended approval of the application when it came before the local authority planning committee - no surprise there.

BALPA continues its objection to the expansion made at the local authority planning committee meeting, still based on a lack of parking provision for its members. However, in its Rule 6 statement BALPA stated that 'if its objections concerning staff parking arrangements could be overcome, BALPA is not in principle opposed to further expansion of Bristol Airport'.

Some people might wonder why the union is going to these lengths to oppose something that might bring more jobs to its members, especially at a time of such uncertainty in the industry.

Returning to the enquiry timescale, it does seem that it will not be completed until the end of September/early October if the timetable is accurate, with perhaps a decision towards the end of this year or early in 2022. However, the Stansted Airport appeal was curtailed by several weeks mainly because the local authority all but gave up on defending its rejection decision. The three planning inspectors there unanimously allowed the appeal and awarded costs against the local authority. The secretary of state did not 'recover' that appeal in order to make the decision himself. That might not be the case with the BRS appeal of course.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Further to my previous post (#445), the Planning Inspectors will also undertake a CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) Inquiry. This Inquiry will be formally opened at the same time as the the s78 Appeal Inquiry at 10am on 20 July 2021 but will not begin to be heard until immediately after the s78 Appeal Inquiry closes.

The Inspectors have to decide whether there is a compelling case in the public interest for the CPOs and the airport has been urged to continue negotiations in the meantime with those affected.

I take it the CPOs are in connection with the airport's desire to acquire land to enable the A38 to be be dualled between the airport entrance and Lulsgate Bottom.
 

TheLocalYokel

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The public enquiry element of Bristol Airport's appeal against the local authority's rejection of its planning application 17 months ago due to begin on 20 July this year will be held at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall. It will be a mix of evidence given in person and via the Internet.

Weston Town Hall is not particularly big so, given the interest and that fact that it's likely that most social distancing restrictions will have been removed by then, it will be an interesting experience fitting in all those who might want to attend, although the ten weeks set aside (the enquiry won't sit on every day during this period by any means) for the public enquiry will enable attendees to spread out.
 

TheLocalYokel

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The public enquiry will begin tomorrow (20 July) at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall and will be streamed live on YouTube.

The public enquiry is projected to last for around 40 days but there will be a two-week break between 16 and 27 August and a week's recess commencing 20 September. At the moment the public enquiry is expected to conclude by mid-October, with a decision announced some time after that.

The main participants including the airport and the council have already submitted their proofs of evidence to the three planning inspectors conducting the enquiry.

Because of extremely limited capacity at the Town Hall members of the public not participating in the enquiry are encouraged to follow it online and not in person. Evidence to the enquiry will either be in person or via virtual platforms.

Full details of arrangements, timetable, programme and relevant documents can be found at this website:


The two organised groups that oppose the airport's planning appeal are Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAEx) and Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN). Both are quoted in the linked local newspaper report above with a summary of their main objections.

SBAEx says, "As well as the huge increase in aircraft emissions at a time when record temperatures are being set almost daily, the expansion would result in some 9,500 extra (my bold) traffic movements per day in North Somerset’s predominantly rural roads."

How did they arrive at this figure? It's worth a closer look.

The airport is asking to be allowed to handle an additional two million passengers a year above its current 10 mppa cap. My maths makes that an average of 5,480 extra passengers per day. Allowing for the fact that the lowest month of the year (usually January) sees roughly half the number of passengers of the highest month (usually August) then clearly there would be more additional passengers in the summer than in the winter.

In fact, if the cap was raised to 12 mppa and the percentage passenger increase was evenly spread across each month based on the current 10 mppa cap August would see around an additional 6,460 daily passengers. The percentage growth and actual passenger increase might be more than that in August so an extra 6,500 daily passengers might not be an unreasonable estimate.

6,500 additional passengers per day does not equate to 6,500 extra daily car journeys because many people, especially families, arrive in groups of three or four, sometimes more, and there is also public transport which, according to the latest CAA passenger survey for BRS (in 2019), was used by 22.3% of those travellers using the airport. So based on the fact that many people arrive in cars in multiple loads plus the public transport provision it's highly likely that the 6,500 extra daily air passengers would generate less than half that number of extra daily car journeys in August.

Other months, especially in winter, would see considerably fewer extra daily passengers, ergo far fewer additional daily car journeys.

I suspect that SBAEx has based its additional car journey numbers on the pre-pandemic 9 mppa figure that actually used the airport, but that is irrelevant because the airport already has permission to handle 10 mppa and the appeal concerns the rise from 10 mppa to 12 mppa. Even so, for the reasons I set out in the the two preceding paragraphs, an extra 9,500 daily car journeys is still wrong, delusional and misleading.

I presume the airport will have figures to refute the claim of SBAEx. Last year a Green councillor in Bristol made a similar claim about extra car journeys
 

TheLocalYokel

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I had a spin through the recorded streaming on Youtube of the opening day of the public enquiry. The morning was taken up with an outline of how the enquiry would proceed, and the afternoon given over to opening submissions from representatives of various groups recognised by the enquiry.

I don't intend to go into much detail nor to watch the daily events on YouTube. It's very slow, as court proceedings are too, and in broad terms we know what the various parties are likely to say.

There are a couple of points that I would mention.

The airport owners are clearly doing all they can to succeed in their appeal, not least in the choice of their lead counsel. Michael Humphries QC is one of the most renowned planning barristers in the country, arguably the most renowned, and no doubt doesn't come cheap.

BALPA is still opposing the appeal, using it to further their call for a re-siting to the north side of the car park used by their members. I can understand why they want a car park closer to the terminal but can't understand why they are aligning themselves with the other opponents to get it. It seems like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

After all, if the airport loses the appeal the car park is still not likely to be moved and extra jobs that might have come to their members in the form of extra flights won't happen.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Oner thing i forgot to mention in my previous post is that at the beginning of the planning enquiry the senior inspector formally announced that he and his two colleagues had been appointed by the secretary of state (Robert Jenrick) to conduct the planning enquiry and decide the outcome. That would suggest that the secretary of state has no intention of 'recovering' the appeal following the planning enquiry in order to make the decision himself.

Earlier this year he did not intervene following a planning enquiry into Stansted Airport's successful appeal, being content to allow the three planning inspectors to make the decision.
 

kraktoa

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All staff are currently parking in the multi storey car park, although EZY crew in uniform were seen in the long stay car park.

Incidently, the multi storey car park, which is more expensive and over 4 floors was practically full most of this week, on every floor. Just 3 weeks ago they were using only 2 floors.
 

TheLocalYokel

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The planning enquiry dealing with the BRS appeal is now well into its second week. So far the three planning inspectors have been sitting four days per week (no Mondays or weekends) which with two weeks taken out in August and a week in September means it's not likely to conclude until October. Following the enquiry a further week has been set aside for the same inspectors to determine the airport's compulsory purchase orders.

The entire enquiry is streamed live on YouTube with a 'library' of all sessions available for later viewing. I've looked at bits of the live sessions as well as some of the recordings but, in truth, it's heavy and slow going.

The last couple of days have been taken up with forecasting, with experts for both the local authority and the airport giving evidence and undergoing cross-examination by the respective opposing barristers. It would be tedious even to try to give a summary of the arguments.

What has featured large though is fleet mix and the percentage of business passengers, with disagreement between the experts, although the local authority's expert did make some concessions to the airport's expert's view who I believe is a Partner with York Aviation. The arrival of Jet2 has been a source of disagreement regarding fleet mix, with the local authority's expert suggesting it will lead to a bigger proportion of current generation aircraft over the next few years.

The airport's expert also suggested that other airports in the region could not realistically take extra flights instead of BRS because the strength of the economy in an airport's catchment is a main driver for creating passenger demand, especially when it comes to business travel, and the West Country (effectively Greater Bristol-plus) has one of the strongest economies in the UK. Unfortunately, I didn't hear the local authority expert's response - the evidence-in-chief and cross-examination of expert witnesses lasts for hours and I didn't have the time to listen to the entire session.

In the first week the airport's barrister appeared to deem it unnecessary to cross-examine some of the 'ordinary' witnesses, ie local people and others who complained about noise and other disturbance, unless they came up with something that needed testing: one man, for instance, claimed that the airport was used mainly by old aircraft but was unable to provide any evidence of this. I took from the airport barrister's approach that in the main the expert witnesses will be the ones of which the planning inspectors will take most heed. There will be much more expert evidence in the coming weeks on other subjects that have a bearing on the appeal.
 

TheLocalYokel

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I've been dipping in and out of the planning enquiry via theYouTube streaming, usually via the recordings. The enquiry has just completed its third week and it's apparent that there is no rush to finish it.

The three planning inspectors don't sit on Mondays, nor at weekends of course, and yesterday they knocked off at lunchtime with the hope that they will be able to do so next Friday too. With two weeks taken out in mid-August and a further week in September it's little wonder that with such a leisurely pace the planning enquiry is not scheduled to finish until mid-October.

Not all the inspectors are present for each day's sitting. Apparently this is quite normal for a major planning enquiry with the individual inspectors concentrating on different aspects of the appeal.

That the BRS planning enquiry is regarded as major (the planning enquiry for the Stansted appeal took no longer than a month earlier this year) is mainly because so many parties have become involved. The environmental industry regards BRS as a test case and is putting in resources and money commensurate with that belief. If the BRS appeal is rejected the opponents obviously believe it will pave the way for rejections at other airports in the future.
 

pianokeys

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The IPCC report released today makes gloomy reading. Could aviation be in for an uncertain future ? We can only speculate while we await the Governments deliberations. Will they tweak their existing strategies. Could internal UK travel be frowned upon. Are swingeing increases in APD and taxation on the horizon to dissuade us and change our habits. Is the 2 week family holiday in Spain in jeopardy ? Will this cast any gloom over the planning appeal ? Extinction Rebellion have already said they will be ramping up civil disobedience. TLY’s last paragraph from Saturday carries some weight. Although aviation accounts for some 2% of global emissions it is the normal whipping boy. What do we think ?
 

TheLocalYokel

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In a general sense I suppose the government has many weapons in its armoury in the battle against climate change including, as far as aviation is concerned, consideration of some of the measures you have set out.

As with the pandemic it's always going to be a balance between tackling the emergency and the country's economy. Not only that but if people were prevented from travelling abroad on holiday or to visit loved ones, perhaps because flights had been reduced to the level where the relatively few seats available were at astronomically high prices, that would undoubtedly have an adverse effect on the mental health and ultimately the general health of many people.

What if the government did bring in draconian rules that in effect drove aviation in this country as we know it into the ground whilst at the same time other nations went on increasing their aviation output? India and China have plans for many new airports for instance. If the UK managed to get its emissions down dramatically but other countries did not where does that leave us? Worse off economically almost certainly and little better off in terms of world climate change because the UK contributes a tiny amount to the phenomenon as a proportion of the whole.

As to the Bristol Airport appeal, today's IPCC report might affect sentiment and the opponents will doubtless try to make the most of it. The planning inspectors don't deal in sentiment. They look at the law and government and regional/local guidance on various aspects relating to the planning appeal. If the government decides to come down hard on aviation to protect the environment I suppose that could have a bearing on the inspectors' decision but the government has to be careful because as with any legislation the Law of Unintended Consequences is rarely far away.

Already at the planning enquiry the opposition has made much of displacement, ie they claim that the additional flights and passengers that would be generated by BRS's planning application could instead be operated at neighbouring under-used airports. That argument prima facie seems strong but the airport through its expert on this subject rebutted the idea in some detail.

Whatever the truth of that any extra flights whether from BRS or nearby airports would still generate the same emissions that the opponents are against.

So if the government brought in new guidance or even legislation that effectively ruled out the BRS expansion, and the flights and passengers did operate from elsewhere instead, UK Plc would be in the same position aa if they had operated from BRS as far as emissions are concerned.
 

TheLocalYokel

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The planning enquiry has now been adjourned for two weeks as scheduled prior to its commencement. However, the planning inspectors will be carrying out site visits on Wednesday and Thursday of the week after next.
 

TheLocalYokel

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I'm intrigued by the rationale of BRS’s owners, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), an organisation that has over £200 billion dollars of assets.

Over the past 15 years OTPP has gone from part shareholding to full ownership. It and the previous owners have invested around £500 million at today’s values in the airport over the past two decades, mainly on infrastructure, and OTPP wants to invest more if the airport is allowed to grow by the planners.

It is currently appealing a decision of its local authority to reject a planning application that would, inter alia, have raised the current 10 mppa planning cap to 12 mppa. In its original planning application the airport projected 12 mppa being reached by 2025/2026 - assuming it was given permission to raise its current planning cap.

The airport now believes that figure will not be reached until around 2030 because of pandemic effects. The current appeal has gone into this timescale at some length with doubt cast on the 2030 projection by opponents.

The owners want to go further. They have said that they see 20 mppa by the early 2040s. That would mean extending the airport beyond its current boundary. They already own some land outside the boundary and at least one local land owner has been voluble in his enthusiasm to sell more. However, with climate change and the worldwide environmental lobby in the foreground, securing the necessary planning permission might be a step too far, but nevertheless it shows what the current owners believe the airport could achieve.

That brings me back to OTPP and why they seem so keen to spend more serious money on what is a minor asset, albeit a highly profitable one pre-pandemic, within their £200 billion dollars-plus portfolio. Not only is it a tiny asset in the grand scheme of things but being an airport that is anxious to expand it is also a controversial and contentious one.

In normal circumstances most of the pensioners and future pensioners who rely on OTPP would not even have heard of Bristol Airport. However, the environmental industry has made sure that they have and OTPP has received complaints from some of its pensioners that supporting airport expansion should not be something with which their pension fund should be associated.

Thus far OTPP seems determined not to be deflected from its plans for BRS which would suggest that it regards Bristol Airport as an important asset, even within such a massive portfolio of assets.

Whether a rejection of the airport’s appeal which would leave them stuck with a 10 mppa cap indefinitely would alter OTPP’s view on this particular asset is obviously not known, publicly at least.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Further to my previous post regarding OTPP I have browsed some of the documents relating to the appeal and found this one from OTPP that sets out their case for wanting BRS to expand. It's short and can be read at this link


As can be imagined there are numerous documents accredited to the appeal and one is a Note showing the location of Cardiff Airport within the Vale of Glamorgan and the priority category that it falls within for the purposes of the Levelling Up Agenda.*

I'm not sure who submitted this Note.

Neither Cardiff Airport nor the Welsh Government is represented at the current planning enquiry. However, both did formally object to the planning application before it was rejected by North Somerset Council.

In the early part of the planning enquiry there was considerable discussion and argument about displacement. The Welsh Government had told North Somerset Council that its airport would be able to take the additional traffic that would potentially be generated by the BRS expansion and thus there was no need for it.

Interestingly, Exeter Airport that also loses substantial passenger traffic to BRS made no formal objection nor any comment at all to North Somerset Council as far as I could determine at the time, and they don't appear to have any direct interest in this appeal.

* local authorities are split into three categories (1,2,3) for the purposes of Levelling Up, with those considered most in need placed in category 1 and least in need placed in category 3. Cardiff is in category 1 and the Vale of Glamorgan is in category 2. Of the four local authorities in the former county of Avon area (informally aka as Greater Bristol) Bristol, North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset are all in category 2 and South Gloucestershire is in category 3.

How all this will relate to the BRS appeal, if at all, is anyone's guess.
 

TheLocalYokel

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The recently-elected West of England Combined Authority mayor, a Labour politician who is a former Labour MP, is following up his airport anti-expansion election pledge by trying to get the leaders of the local authorities in the area to support his stance. The previous 'regional' mayor was a Conservative who supported airport expansion.

It's likely that most of the local authority leaders will back him although, whatever the outcome, it will have little if any effect on the decision to be made by the three planning inspectors dealing with the airport's appeal.

 

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I dipped into the live feed again today re the airport's planning appeal.

The planning enquiry began on 20 July although there was a two-week break in August.

This morning the senior planning inspector outlined the rest of the programme. Next week will see another suspension (planned before the enquiry began) with a return on Tuesday 28 September (the enquiry never sits on Mondays). The final week will be that beginning Tuesday 5 October.

The three inspectors will then turn to dealing with the airport's compulsory purchase orders (CPO enquiry) which is anticipated to take only the week beginning Tuesday 12 October.

When the inspectors' decision on the appeal will be announced is anyone's guess. It might not be before the end of this calendar year. At the outset the senior inspector stated that the secretary of state had allowed the inspectors to determine the appeal decision rather than recover the appeal to make the decision himself.

However, the CPO must go to the secretary of state with the inspectors' recommendations. The senior inspector had previously indicated that they would not submit their CPO recommendations until after they had announced their planning appeal decision.
 
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