A decision on Bristol Airport’s plans to boost passenger numbers to 12million by 2026 will be made in September at the earliest.
The proposals – which include 3,900 more parking spaces, improvements to the on-site road layout and a new transport interchange – have split opinion.
Some, like Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, say it will boost the economy, secure thousands of jobs and future-proof the West Country.
But opponents like Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) claim the expansion is incompatible with aims to tackle the “climate emergency”, and without infrastructure improvements will cause chaos on the region’s roads.
The plans are in the hands of North Somerset Council and leader Don Davies said a decision over the summer holidays would be hard to justify.
The authority currently has planning and regulatory committee meetings scheduled on September 18 and October 16, although with 466 documents and 2,822 comments to consider, there may be a special meeting.
The comments currently include 2,395 objections and 361 letters of support.
Bristol’s Green group of councillors have consistently spoken out against the airport expansion.
Steve Clarke, a Green councillor for Southville, referred to the matter as “the enormous stinking great elephant in the corner”, during a recent debate about climate change in City Hall.
“How can it be possible that the mayor is on the one hand saying there is a climate emergency and yet is still enthusiastically supporting plans for an extra 23,600 planes a year at our airport?” he asked.
Rees has said the region will miss out on “an opportunity for thousands of new jobs in the next decade” if Bristol Airport doesn’t expand.
The airport said its new proposals will allow it to take the next step to becoming an international gateway which could serve up to 20 million passengers a year by the mid-2040s.
Somerset County Council backed the phased approach to growth of the airport, saying it will be of considerable benefit to the economy of the South West and the UK – subject to mitigation of significant local impacts.
All four unitary authorities in the West of England have declared climate emergencies.
The plans include a new transport interchange with a coach and bus station, taxi ranks and a drop-off zone.
Underneath, the multi-storey car park would bring an additional 2,150 spaces to the airport over five levels.
Campaigners from the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion group claim the planned growth is driven by greed for more parking profits and warn that there will be health implications for everyone.
A petition by Bristol Rising Tide calling on North Somerset Council to prevent the “irresponsible” expansion has garnered more than 3,200 signatures.
It will be up to councillors to decide if the expansion goes ahead.
Stephen Sumner is a local democracy for BANES and North Somerset