Airport 'land grab' denied

A PROTEST group is accusing bosses at Bristol International Airport of attempting to 'grab' green belt land for car parking. Members

A PROTEST group is accusing bosses at Bristol International Airport of attempting to 'grab' green belt land for car parking.Members of Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) say policy changes requested by Bristol International Airport (BIA) would allow it to go ahead with plans for building car parks that would be visible for miles around.BIA says the claims are 'grossly misleading' and show a 'misunderstanding of the purpose of green belt designation'.The SBAE accusation comes as a draft plan, drawn up to guide all development and planning strategies in the South West until 2026, was thrashed out in Exeter this week by Government inspectors.The parking issue has already gone before a Government planning inspector and been rejected on the grounds that the airport would have to demonstrate 'exceptional circumstances' to be allowed to use green belt land for facilities to the south side of the airport's current boundary. SBAE spokesman, Georgie Bigg, said: "The green belt south of Bristol is crucial in protecting the character of the landscape in Chew Valley and Wrington Vale, which merges into the Mendip Hills area of outstanding natural beauty."This area is not only treasured by the people who live here, but is also of immense value to those who live in Bristol and Weston and should not be underestimated or undermined. "More car parks mean more cars, which mean more traffic congestion on local roads. We believe BIA wants to accommodate more cars because parking fees equal profits, and that it wants to replace the current car park that will be lost to a new hotel, which will damage local business. "We are calling on Government inspectors to uphold the green belt boundaries outlined in the draft strategy and to ensure this provision is upheld in the final strategy."Alan Davies, director of planning and development at BIA, said: "Talk of a 'green belt land grab' is grossly misleading and shows a misunderstanding of the purpose of green belt designation."The strategy must be aligned with national policy, which supports the growth of BIA. Our development plans are still subject to the planning system, under which an environmental impact assessment is required to assess the effects of any development."Plans for car parking to meet passenger demand up to 2015 require only an additional nine hectares outside our current operating boundaries. The vast majority of proposed development is on the current site, and has been considered with visual and environmental impacts in mind, hence features such as the green roofs on the low-level decked car parks.


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