Bristol Airport’s plans to increase capacity to 12 million passengers by the mid-2020s continues to divide opinion across the city.
The proposals have been branded “bonkers” by some, who argue they are at odds with efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Others have welcomed the opportunity to grow the major transport hub and the economic benefits it entails.
Airport bosses say the plans – now submitted to North Somerset Council – represent the “first practical step towards an exciting vision to develop the region’s international gateway to serve up to 20 million passengers a year by the mid-2040s”.
Annual passenger numbers are expected to pass the nine million mark for the first time next year and the terminal is currently limited to 10 million passengers under the current planning permission.
The proposed development includes new infrastructure, improvements to existing facilities, and operational changes to ensure the airport can continue to meet demand for air travel to and from the South West of the UK into the next decade.
Under the new plans, the terminal will be enlarged, with additional space for passenger and baggage facilities.
Airport bosses say a canopy extension over a pedestrianised forecourt will improve the approach to the front of the building, while the number of on-site multi-storey car parks will increase to three and a new loop road layout is expected to improve traffic flow within the airport site.
The cheapest Silver Zone car park will be extended to “meet demand from passengers and help to prevent overspill into local villages”.
Speaking about the plans, Dave Lees, Bristol Airport’s chief executive officer, said: “Following consultation with the local community, airline customers, passengers and other stakeholders, these plans set out sustainable development to meet demand for air travel to and from the South West and South Wales over the next decade.
“They will help deliver more routes, destinations and jobs.
“These plans are a practical step to ensuring we continue to connect our region to the world, providing a gateway for business, investment and tourists.
“At the same time, we have sought to minimise and mitigate any impacts on the local community and environment, building on our track record of investment in surface access improvements.”
The airport currently employs around 4,000 people and supports an estimated 24,000 jobs in the wider economy. The expansion plans are expected to create an additional 1,000 new jobs and generate £1.4 billion across the next decade.
The annual cap on night flights, which limits movements between 11.30pm and 6am to a total of 4,000, will not be increased – although the airport is seeking to remove seasonal restrictions, which stipulate how this quota must be distributed between summer and winter.
Local highway improvements are also proposed, focusing on the A38 junctions with West Lane and Downside Road
A Section 106 Agreement is included in proposals to mitigate the impacts of the application.
North Somerset Council will ultimately decide whether or not the expansion can go ahead.
Read more: ‘The sky’s the limit for Bristol Airport’