Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Impacts of BIA expansion

Only a few days left to object to BIA's plans for massive expansion of flights - and all the ground based damage that goes together with the impacts on the atmosphere.

Fortunately, Stop Bristol Airport Expansion have made it easier to register objections to the planning application that BIA have made to North Somerset council. Many explanatory leaflets and response forms have been delivered door-to-door (I put a couple of hundred out in Stockwood yesterday), and there's detailed advice on their website.

The government (which has always had a very cosy relationship with the aviation industry) has already made it clear that aviation won't be subjected to any emissions capping separate from the rest of industry - which means that the swingeing cuts already necessary on the ground will have to be even deeper if there are more aircraft in the skies. That really is unthinkable.

Maybe Ed Miliband should do the maths, and look at the social consequences of this ill-thought policy. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to do what we can to make sure it doesn't happen. Starting with Lulsgate.


Tim said...

Thanks for the reminder. I shall register my support for the expansion. Not that I think it'll matter much one way or another.

Mind you, I'm quite in favour of e.g. subjecting airlines to emission caps or an emissions trading system or charges based on the noise aircraft produce and the like (and to pay for it in the end), I just don't see how objecting a much-needed airport expansion (no, really) will do anything to further that goal. It seems like ersatz activism borne out of laziness to me. Must feel good though ;)

Glyn said...


I've read some of your recent blogs and often find myself in agreement with many points you make.

However, I can't agree with your stance on Bristol Airport (BIA) expansion.

The airport is one of the few facilities in the Bristol region that is better than those of many other areas. Because of its success it desperately needs expanding to cater for all the people who clearly want to fly from it.

Don't get out the violins just yet, but I grew up in the village of Wrington in the 1940s and 1950s. That's the village in whose parish the airport lies. My parents had little money (father was a labourer and mother a char) but my brother and I did not want although holidays were few and far between – we had a week at Weston once.

I reached my late teens in the early 60s and had to move to Bristol because I could find nowhere to live around Wrington – cost! Please persevere, this is relevant.

In the 70s our own children were growing up and we took them on holiday every year but could not afford foreign holidays. They now have children of their own and have taken them all round the northern hemisphere. This has broadened their horizons tremendously and is mainly due to the availability and affordability of flights, particularly from local airports. The grandchildren have mixed with locals in Africa and gone to a local cricket match in the West Indies where they and their father were the only non-locals there.

It seems that by wanting to curtail air travel you and your fellow travellers (no pun!) will ultimately bring us back to the situation that obtained forty years ago where air travel was the preserve of the well-off and business people. Make no bones about it, if airports like Bristol can't grow they will stagnate and whither. There won't be the need for many airlines or aircraft and places like Bae at Filton will have no work.

Ordinary people like me will have to try to find airports that are open – probably the likes of Heathrow – and travel there by surface transport.

I can't understand why you have a go at a relatively small airport like Bristol when there are other far larger airports in the UK and around the world. Indeed, China is in the process of building many more, each one much bigger than Bristol.

In the short term a successful campaign to emasculate Bristol will only drive people to other airports such as the under-performing Cardiff Airport who are desperate for some of Bristol's passengers. Is the Welsh Assembly Government a contributor to SBAE (only mildly tongue I cheek)? Then of course Cardiff will be the next target because that will be deemed to be growing too big.

I mentioned Wrington because I have seen that village grow from a small rural idyll into a small town since the late 50s by many people moving into the new houses that have been built all round the village in the intervening period. These people then have the neck to complain about airport noise and expansion after they have spoiled a small village by their presence in such numbers and many of them commute daily to/from Bristol (the main cause of A38 heavy traffic volumes) causing noise and pollution themselves.

I object to the Stalinist tone of SBAE trying to tell people when and where they should take their holidays and not to use air travel to do so. Who do they think they are? And you are no better for encouraging them.

Incidentally, I note you have no problem in using electrical power to create and run your internet blog. Is the energy that runs your computer completely green?

My wife and I have a car (one between us not one each that is the case with at least one prominent Green campaigner and his wife that I am aware of) but use the bus and our feet for much of our travel. Our car has completed 9,000 miles in the past three years. I wonder how many supporters of the Green Party use their cars as little as this.

We are told that animals, especially cows, are responsible for a high proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. Will they be your next targets?

Pete Goodwin said...

Perhaps, if it was only Bristol's airport expansion that was being opposed, Tim and Glyn would have a case. The 'global emissions' factor would be removed from the argument, leaving only the 'local impacts' - loss of green belt, noise, pollution, traffic, cash flows etc - to weigh against the convenience of travellers.

But proposed expansion at Bristol is being matched by proposed expansion at virtually every other airport, and opposition at Bristol goes hand in hand with opposition elsewhere. The bottom line - for me - is all about emissions and about peak oil, with the whole of the economy and the environment depending on serious reductions in both. Allow expansion in one sector and the required cuts in other sectors become intolerable.

It's easy to play the egalitarian card, suggesting that air travel should be easily available to everyone, whatever their wealth. But that principle must also apply at ground level, where it's more important to make sure that the necessities of food, shelter, warmth, and access are universally available. More flying undermines that.

Expand flying, and what you'll get is more intense competition for the real essentials of food and warmth and shelter, and that's where the divide between rich and poor will be most evident.

For those given to 'market' ideology (and in practice it's probably the only game in town just now), the idea of personal carbon allowances is probably the best way of tackling inequalities. Then those who want to fly a lot (and most of those who now fly do fly a lot) will be obliged to buy whatever credits they can afford from those who are more careful about their fuel use.

Glyn, you suggest that Green supporters are hypocritical in their resource use/abuse. I can only speak for myself, and I'm sure I could do better! But I very rarely use a car (City Car Club), and generally rely on my feet, my bike, or public transport. The electricity I buy comes from wind turbines. The house is well insulated. I haven't flown for the last forty years - though occasionally it would have been more convenient. And I reckon I have a high quality lifestyle. In fact if everyone did as I do, we'd need only two (or is it three?) planets to sustain it!