Bristol Airport campaigners appoint QC to assess grounds for challenging expansion plan


Activists have appointed a legal expert to assess their grounds for appeal against the decision to allow the expansion of Bristol Airport.

Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) has instructed its legal team to develop potential grounds for appeal against the decision and assess the chances of success should it decide to apply to the High Court for a “statutory review”.

A Bristol Airport Action Network spokesperson said: “Following legal advice, BAAN has now asked our QC to write formal grounds of appeal against the decision to expand Bristol Airport and advise us of our likely success in achieving statutory review and challenge in the High Court. .”

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The group has until March 18 to decide whether to challenge the decision and has launched a crowdfunding appeal to pay the legal costs.

The appeal has so far raised just over £17,000 of its £40,000 target, with campaigners now calling on people to donate.

The news comes after BAAN took part in a protest in Bristol over the weekend outside a city center hotel hosting a key South West tourism conference on sustainability, sponsored by Bristol Airport.

The keynote speaker was airport CEO Dave Lees and it was the first time he had been seen at a public event since the announcement by the Planning Inspectorate which gave the airport the green light to grow.

The spokesperson added: “We launched a fundraiser by contacting people who had attended our rally and within 38 hours we raised the first £10,000 needed for this initial review and consideration.

“It shows the strength of feeling.

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“We are now opening up the Crowdfunder to a wider audience to see if we can secure a commitment for full funding as soon as possible.

“Having pledges in place will help our decision-making process both pragmatically, that we should have the money to move forward, and psychologically, to know that we have the support of a council-based population.”

The airport learned last month that its attempt to expand current operations from 10 million to 12 million passengers a year was allowed on appeal following a public inquiry last year..

READ MORE: The Somerset village that lives in the shadow of Bristol Airport

The trio of planning inspectors acknowledged their decision would be a ‘major disappointment’ for the ‘significant’ opposition, but found the socio-economic benefits of expanding airport capacity outweighed on the damage it would cause.

North Somerset Council refused the expansion in 2020 following 8,900 public objections, citing the impact on the climate, the green belt and the health of residents and the pressure on local infrastructure.

The authority also reviews the inspectors’ decision to see if there are grounds for challenge.

Anyone wishing to donate to BAAN Crowdfunder can do so here.

Read the latest stories from Somerset here.

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