Day 2: The Inquiry has set aside 3 days for hearing statements from representatives of the local Parish Councils and from interested parties who object to or support Bristol Airport’s proposed expansion.
Much of the day dealt with evidence from Parish Council representatives and for the first time we witnessed the art of ‘cross examination’ and some of us were concerned at how brutal the process could be!
For some people it is totally daunting speaking inside the chamber headed up by a lofty bench seating the 3 inspectors as well of a room of very official-looking people. Not surprising that statements were varied in delivery but everyone had a valid reason to be present either in-person or via Teams. It was great to hear from some very confident speakers. Personal accounts from residents included tales of misery about the incredibly disturbing noise of aircraft flying overhead, traffic congestion, illegal parking, taxi drivers using gardens as toilets, the smell of aviation fumes as well as many other complaints.
Of course not everyone was against the airport expansion so we also heard from a smattering of supporters including a representative from the Federation of Small Businesses (FBS). Our lead, Stephen Clarke, exercised BAAN’s right as a Rule 6 party to cross examine, Mr Mayer, on his statement that gave the impression that all members of the FBS were 100% behind the airport’s plans. On questioning it was clear that not all businesses associated with the FBS were in favour of expansion and there was no evidence available to corroborate percentage of those members who were for and against.
The above challenge gave us all a reality check that actually this was a key reason why BAAN decided to make the bold decision to apply to be a Rule 6 Party. We suddenly realised that not only do we have a seat at the Inquiry but we also have the important opportunity to use our voice in cross examining what others are saying. Once again BAAN demonstrated that it was willing to influence the debate to hopefully ensure the right outcome.