Bristol

Bristol Airport expansion: Students' plea over environmental impact

Plane wing with countryside in background Image copyright Geograph/Alan Hughes
Image caption Bristol Airport says it will be carbon neutral by 2030 and aims to reduce car journeys

Teenagers anxious about the environmental impact of Bristol Airport's planned expansion are urging investors to intervene.

The airport, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP), wants to increase capacity by 30% by 2025.

In an open video message, students living near the airport begged teachers to put pressure on their pension fund.

The Ontario Teachers Federation said it was aware of the concerns.

The airport - used by 8.5 million passengers in 2018 - has asked North Somerset Council for permission for a development that would see the existing terminal enlarged, a bus and coach station created on the roof and an extension to its long-stay car park.

It said the expansion would enable more people from south-west England to "fly local", reducing the number of road journeys to and from London airports.

Image copyright Stop Bristol Airport Expansion
Image caption Scarlett Vester said she was duty-bound to get involved because of climate change concerns

In the short film, shot by the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion group around the Mendip Hills, the students argue that the budget flights running from the airport actually lose money.

They say the airport is only increasing flights to make more profit from parking charges.

In the video, they added: "69% of passengers arrive by car, a far greater number of cars than any other European airport.

"Your pension fund knows this and wants to take advantage."

One of the students, Scarlett Vester, 17, said she got involved because she lives in Butcombe, just three miles from the airport.

She said: "It is infuriating to watch those with authority not only do nothing to lessen the devastating effects, but actively intensify the problem.

"I hope that the teachers will realise where their money is going, as well as their responsibility to ensure it does not fund such a detrimental venture."

Image copyright Bristol Airport
Image caption The airport is currently used by about 8.5 million passengers a year

Kimberley Fry, who is a primary school teacher in Toronto, Canada, said she believed investors had the power to make a difference.

She said: "Expanding the airport shows a sense of climate denial and not acknowledging the real climate crisis we are facing.

"These are not the kinds of investments I want my pension plan funds to be part of."

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