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To: North Somerset Council

Rewild Bristol Airport

Rewild Bristol Airport

Cut the fences, tear up the tarmac. North Somerset deserves 500 acres of ecological restoration. With only 3 flights departing per week, now is the time to return the airport to nature.

- Hand the idle airport over to a wildlife trust for rewilding.
- Redeploy airport workers to green jobs in North Somerset.
- Cheap rail links from Bristol to France, Spain and Ireland via Eurostar and ferry.

Why is this important?

Lulsgate Bottom was never meant to be eaten by an airport. In the second world war 14 acres was used by the RAF as an emergency landing field. In 1955 Bristol Corporation bought the field and it began to sprawl. The airport’s boom into a site of major ecological destruction began with privatisation in 1997. Since then passenger numbers have quadrupled from 2 million a year to 8.6 million a year [1] and the airport’s greenhouse gas emissions have skyrocketed to 746 kilotonnes CO2e in 2017. [2] This compares to emissions of 1149 kt CO2e from the entire North Somerset local authority in 2015. [3]

Bristol Airport butts up against Goblin Combe Nature Reserve, a site of Natural Conservation Importance and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. [4] If Bristol Airport was rewilded it would triple the size of the nature reserve. With only three flights a week currently departing Bristol Airport, now is a unique opportunity to give this land back to nature.

The government’s feeble attempt to deal with the crisis faced by the aviation industry consists of handouts to big corporations and does nothing to protect workers’ livelihoods. [5] Rather than letting workers bear the costs of the collapse of the aviation sector, the government needs to halt redundancies by immediately offering Bristol Airport workers redeployment on their current terms and conditions to green jobs in North Somerset. Restoring our ecosystems will need all hands on deck.

This wouldn’t be the first time an airport has been successfully rewilded. Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport is now a public park, home to rare nesting birds, 112 spider species and 68 beetle species. [6]

The closure of Bristol Airport shouldn’t leave Bristolians less connected. The government’s nationalisation of the rail network to deal with the pandemic is an opportunity to lower costs and improve connections. Direct trains from Bristol to Scotland need to be priced as cheaply as budget airfares. New timetables and discounted fares need to connect trains from Temple Meads with Eurostar trains to Brussels and Paris. Trains from Bristol must integrate with ferries from Fishguard to Ireland and Plymouth to Spain. Airport workers who wish to continue their career in international transport should be offered roles in these improved routes.

[1] UK Civil Aviation Authority via Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Airport#cite_note-87
[2] Adrian Gibbs, ‘Just plane wrong: Bristol Airport’s expansion plan’: https://www.isonomia.co.uk/just-plane-wrong-bristol-airports-expansion-application/
[3] North Somerset Council, ‘Local Climate Commitment 2018’: https://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Climate-Local-Commitment-refresh-2018.pdf
[4] Avon Wildlife Trust, ‘Goblin Combe’: https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/goblin-combe
[5] New Economics Foundation, ‘Crisis support to aviation and the right to retrain’: https://neweconomics.org/2020/06/crisis-support-to-aviation-and-the-right-to-retrain
[6] The Guardian, ‘How Berliners refused to give Tempelhof Airport over to developers’: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/mar/05/how-berliners-refused-to-give-tempelhof-airport-over-to-developers

North Somerset, UK

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Updates

2020-12-09 10:06:59 +0000

50 signatures reached

2020-07-16 09:09:11 +0100

25 signatures reached

2020-06-15 09:07:53 +0100

10 signatures reached