West of England Mayor calls on local council leaders to show moral leadership on climate emergency

Now is not the time to expand Bristol Airport, according to the West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris – as he called on the leaders of the region’s four local councils to back his stance.

The Labour Metro Mayor will propose a motion, seconded by BANES Lib Dem leader Cllr Kevin Guy, at a special meeting of the West of England Combined Authority’s Joint Committee which he leads. The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday 21 September, will call on all four local council leaders to reject Bristol Airport’s latest expansion plans. 

Said Dan Norris: “We are in the midst of a climate and biodiversity emergency. The vast majority of people across North Somerset, Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire know this and are rightly extremely concerned. Regrettably some politicians are still to catch-up with local public opinion. 

“The global pandemic has drastically shrunk the amount of air traffic. Meanwhile extreme climate emergency events are seeing super high temperatures, fires, floods and melting sea ice around our fragile planet.  I believe these deeply concerning phenomena have fundamentally changed the way most of us think about air travel now and in the future. 

“We need to remember Bristol Airport has not hit its previous passenger targets. So now is certainly not the time to seek to expand Bristol Airport’s flight numbers even further. 

“That is why I am seeking to change the West of England Combined Authority’s official position. Our region is justifiably proud we have set ourselves a really ambitious net zero CO2 target by 2030. But unless we show moral leadership now, when it comes to the airport’s proposed further expansion, our net zero objectives will be seen to be a sham.” 

Initial indications are not positive that all four of the region’s council leaders will back this important change. 

Asked if he thought the motion would be passed, Mr Norris continued: “I am an optimist and believe people can shift their positions. So I’m calling on the local leaders to show moral leadership and courage and do what is right.” 

BANES Council voted to oppose airport expansion in 2019 and Bristol Council in 2020. North Somerset Council have previously decided to refuse planning permission to expand beyond 10 million passengers a year. 

The Metro Mayor also expressed his support to workers in the aviation industry adding that a “just transition and a Green New Deal approach” is needed.

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