By Milan Perera, News Reporter
The recent court ruling that gave the green light for the expansion of Bristol Airport was met with incredulity and anger as a large group of demonstrators gathered outside City Hall on College Green on Saturday, February 4.
The event was organised by Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) in order to send a clear message on the expansion of Bristol Airport. The High Court ruling on January 31 removed any legal impediment to the proposed expansion. The BAAN highlighted the impact on the environment and the general public if the plans for expansions were to go ahead.
Members of BAAN were also joined by climate activists, local politicians, healthcare professionals, local artists, students and members of the general public for the rally. Speaking on the occasion was the Deputy Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Sarah Warren representing the Liberal Democrats who voiced her disappointment on the court ruling:
‘This decision flies in the face of overwhelming public opposition to further unwarranted and polluting development at Bristol Airport and completely ignores both the climate emergency and democratic decision-making.’
Another local politician who addressed the rally was Emma Edwards, the local Councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down, representing the Green Party who pointed out that:
‘The airport set an ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2030 but they didn’t actually count the aeroplanes and cars. It’s like saying McDonald’s is going vegan…There’s no such thing as a carbon-neutral airport!’
Also speaking on the occasion was Dr. Jonathan Monk-Cunliffe who warned of the potential health risks for those who live in the area and beyond as a result of the expansion which is set to go ahead.
‘It’s not local democracy. It’s not decisions about public health, climate crisis or social justice. It’s corporate interest in profit rather than the health and interests of the people. As a doctor I have a duty to speak out. The airport expansion will risk the health of our community.’
Dr. Monk-Cunliffe elaborated how the presence of 23,000 more flights a year and 10,000 cars a day could raise toxic gas emissions to unprecedented levels which could lead to health issues. He further explained how the increased levels of noise pollution could result in higher rates of heart attacks and strokes as it puts extra stress on the body.
It is estimated that the passenger numbers will increase from 10 million to 12 million a year as a result of the expansion.
Huw Williams from the Climate Justice Coalition who also addressed the rally spoke exclusively to Epigram and pointed out that:
‘Today’s protest is in opposition to the expansion of the airport. It’s clear that climate chaos is bringing increasing misery to millions across the globe and is speeding up. We need urgent action to put people and the planet before profit.’
The proceedings for the afternoon were interspersed with live music which featured the Extinction Rebellion Samba Band and the Climate Choir.