This is an open letter from Extinction Rebellion Bristol to the city’s mayor, Marvin Rees. On Friday, Extinction Rebellion are joining forces with Bristol Airport Action Network for a protest and march starting on College Green on midday.
We call on you as our Mayor and city leader to use your influence to oppose, publicly and unequivocally, the expansion of Bristol Airport.
We are proud that Bristol was the first UK city to declare a climate emergency and set the ambitious goal of being carbon-neutral by 2030. Now we must walk the talk. Let’s not let all our good work risk being cancelled out by a 30% increase in flights to and from an expanded Bristol Airport.
As a statutory consultee, you have the power to influence the planning application process. Please use that power now.
You have said that it is important to assess all the available evidence about anticipated future airport passenger numbers. However, you will have noticed that in the last year, in response to the warnings from scientists, indigenous peoples, school children and activists worldwide, the narrative of perpetual growth is giving way to that of sustainability. Countries like Sweden and Germany are now experiencing a shift from air travel to train, and this is expected to grow.
Have you taken the time to find out if this is what Bristolians really want? When consulted on similar airport expansion plans in Leeds, members of the Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury – a representative group from the city – opposed expanding Leeds Bradford Airport.
Bristol Airport can only boast that it will be carbon-neutral by 2025 by conveniently ignoring emissions from airplanes and road traffic. Emissions aside, the expansion will impact upon wildlife, increase pollution and disturbance caused by night flights, and damage the mental and physical health of people who live in this beautiful corner of North Somerset.
We understand that you are concerned about providing jobs for Bristolians. We believe the work you are planning in the housing sector, building new homes and retro-fitting old ones, can do this.
We know you care deeply for social equality and prosperity for Bristolians, but expanding the airport is not in line with this ethos. An estimated 70% of flights are taken by a wealthy 15% of the population. Why enable a small number of rich people to live even more unsustainably while low-earning people locally and globally are left to suffer the worst effects of air pollution and climate breakdown?
With UK airports planning to expand almost three times faster than the Committee for Climate Change says is sustainable, who is going to be bold enough to set the right example? With politicians only paying lip service to the need for a low-carbon economy, we need a leader of standing to make the first move and believe that this could be you.
Bristol, ‘Green City’, must lead, not follow. We want our Mayor to be on the right side of history!
Main photo courtesy of Bristol Airport