New Civil Engineer - Catherine Kennedy

Planning lawyers, economists and environmentalists have warned that the Planning Inspectorate’s decision last week to approve Bristol Airport’s expansion plans on appeal sets a “precedent” for future UK airport expansions.

Plans to expand the airport to cater for an additional 2M passengers a year were knocked back by North Somerset Council in February 2020, but the airport then appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the decision.

Planners found that in terms of the planning balance, climate change should be seen as “neutral”. According to New Economics Foundation senior researcher Alex Chapman, who gave evidence at the inquiry, that means the airport expansion's impact on the environment was "entirely discounted" from the Planning Inspectorate's decision-making process. Chapman added that this is an “incredibly dangerous precedent” to set.

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