Students' plea for Bristol Airport's backer to halt expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 16:00 13 May 2019

An artist's impression of what Bristol Airport may look like in future.

An artist's impression of what Bristol Airport may look like in future.

Bristol Airport

A group of students have created a video letter to Bristol Airport's Canadian backer in hope it will halt expansion plans.

Scarlett Vestor     Picture: Stop Bristol Airport ExpansionScarlett Vestor Picture: Stop Bristol Airport Expansion

The airport, which is owned by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP), recently submitted planning permission to enlarge the airport's terminal, create a bus and coach station, and expand its long-stay car park.

The airport hopes this will be the first step towards increasing its passenger count to 20 million by the mid-2040s.

The video filmed by Stop Bristol Airport Expansion featured students from Churchill Academy and Chew Valley School

One of the students, Scarlett Vester, aged 17, who lives in Butcombe, just three miles from the airport, decided to become involved with the campaign because she was distressed by 'the concept of increased air travel and car use' and the 'disastrous consequences' the expansion could have on the environment.

The four students video letter called on Ontario teachers to reconsider their backing of the Bristol Airport Expansion. L-R: Libby Scott, Mya-Rose Craig, Will Scott, Scarlett Vestor.The four students video letter called on Ontario teachers to reconsider their backing of the Bristol Airport Expansion. L-R: Libby Scott, Mya-Rose Craig, Will Scott, Scarlett Vestor.

She said: "I could not allow plans that would drastically reduce the quality of life in the future pass without doing what I could to try to stop it.

"It was infuriating watching those with authority not only do nothing to lessen the devastating effects of climate change, but actively intensify the problem.

"I hope the teachers will realise their responsibility to ensure their money does not fund such a detrimental venture as the expansion of Bristol Airport, and so will pull the funding,

"I would like to remind everyone involved this decision will have consequences for generations, both locally and, globally.

Libby Scott     Picture: Stop Bristol Airport ExpansionLibby Scott Picture: Stop Bristol Airport Expansion

"Instead of further development, the airport and the council should focus instead on reducing the impact they have on the environment.

Churchill student, 18-year-old, Libby Scott, said: "When I first read about the planned expansion and saw the effects it was going to have, I knew I wanted to fight it in some way.

"Through speaking to other members of the community I became aware of the campaign and leapt at the chance to join in.

"I was frustrated authorities are refusing to listen to discussions about the future of the Earth.

"The video was an opportunity to express my opinions on the disastrous effects the expansion would have.

"I wanted to try to spread awareness about the impact of the plans and help fight something I feel so strongly about.

"I hope OTPP will understand its money is supporting a venture which will affect everyone, not just the people in close proximity to the airport, and will withdraw funding so the airport will be forced to revise its plans.

"I hope the airport will make the environment a bigger priority when making decisions in the future and begin to make necessary investments to reduce the airport's impact on climate change. It should consider just how many people this expansion will affect.

"We all know the consequences of global warming and we know that they will not disappear.

"The airport already has a significant negative impact on the environment and going ahead with their proposals will seriously worsen this.

"Bristol Airport needs to ask itself whether these plans are needed or only wanted: whether the money it would earn is worth the destruction of our planet?

"After declaring a climate emergency how can North Somerset Council possibly support this proposal?

"The council should lead the way in fighting for our beautiful planet, rather than turning its back on it and following in the destructive footsteps of so many before it. It has power and authority, I beg it uses it in the right way, to oppose these plans and improve public transport links to the airport."

A spokesman for Bristol Airport believes an expansion will help the environment in other ways.

They said: "Developing Bristol Airport will enable more people from the South West to fly local, reducing the number of road journeys to and from London airports - currently numbering more than seven million a year.

"At the same time, air travel is becoming more carbon efficient through the introduction of new aircraft with improved performance and lower emissions.

"Our commitment to be a carbon neutral airport by 2030 highlights our focus on reducing the impact of our operations on the environment and local communities."

OTPP was approached for comment but had not responded at time of going to press.

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