Urgent talks will be held next week among the region’s council leaders and mayors after campaigners inundated them with demands to abandon support for Bristol Airport’s expansion.
Protesters want the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to abandon its support for the expansion because two of its three constituent local authorities – Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset – are now publicly opposed to it. North Somerset Council which is outside the WECA boundary, yet accommodates the airport, is also against the expansion plans because their councillors rejected the airport’s planning application last February.
Over 150 statements and 24 questions on that topic alone were submitted to WECA committee’s public forum on Friday (January 29), with a succession of speakers pleading with members to change the combined authority’s stance. This number of submissions was unprecedented – WECA have never had so many comments and questions on one single issue at a meeting.
The Airport’s controversial appeal was not on the WECA Committee’s agenda but the spotlight of interest has now forced the region’s leaders to meet. This fantastic lobbying has now placed the dilemma at the top of agenda.
BAAN member, Jackie Head, was one of the members of the public called to speak to her submitted statement. She told the committee: “You have a moral duty to represent the members of WECA. Among your ranks now there are more people against the airport than for it. I am calling on you as WECA to use any methods you can – the emergency powers of Covid if need be – to reverse your decision, to comment on the consultation that is now in place, in order to represent truly your area.”
Big thanks to all those that made the effort to submit a question and/or a statement. It just goes to show that once again local activism works.