Core Strategy - Consultation Draft

CS23: Bristol International Airport


CS23 Bristol International Airport

Proposals for the development of Bristol International Airport will be required to demonstrate the satisfactory resolution of environmental issues, including the impact of growth on surrounding communities and surface access infrastructure.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objective 5.



The 2003 Air Transport White Paper supports the development of Bristol International Airport (BIA) to accommodate up to 12 million passengers per annum (mppa) by 2030. Draft RSS (Policy RTS6) confirms that this is the level of growth to be planned for.

The Core Strategy approach

Development requiring consent up to 2011 is provided for by Policy T/12 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and is the subject of a current planning application. As well as taking account of the wide range of environmental issues including climate change, the Core Strategy emphasises the importance of assessing the local impacts, particularly in relation to surrounding communities and surface access issues.

Additional development requiring consent beyond that date is expected to form the subject of an Area Action Plan or other development plan document, such as a subject-based plan for aviation. This would be co-ordinated, as far as possible, with the review of the Airport Master Plan around 2011. To meet this timetable the background work, including consultations with the local community and key stakeholders, would be largely completed during 2010. Consistent with partnership working and effective use of resources there would seem to be advantage in combining the first stage of the Area Action Plan with the Master Plan review, once monitoring has clarified what the scope of the review will need to address. Pending adoption of an AAP, the intention is that Policy T/12 should continue in place. 



How and where the policy will be delivered

The policy relates to the development of Bristol International Airport only. Off-site car parking is regulated by Local Plan Policy T/12; the Core Strategy proposes no change to this policy's approach.

Development of the airport is led by its owners, whose responsibility it is to ensure that the environmental impacts of growth are satisfactorily addressed.

In relation to future development beyond that which is identified in the Replacement Local Plan, the council will liaise with the airport, to ensure that the timing of a future Development Plan Document is co-ordinated with additions to the evidence base arising from review of the Airport Master Plan.

Alternative options and contingency planning

The alternative considered is to produce detailed proposals for the airport at this stage, including associated changes to the Green Belt boundary. The airport could then be identified in the Core Strategy as a strategic allocation, with a defined boundary outlined. This has been rejected for the following reasons:

(1) Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts (para. 2.8) states that Green Belts should have a degree of permanence. As it would devalue the concept of the Green Belt to make frequent changes, it is important to consider any change in the context of the fullest possible understanding of future development needs. This is not currently available.

(2) The emerging RSS (Policy HMA1) proposes that land will be removed from the Green Belt, having regard to the airport's development needs. The form of development envisaged as requiring consent post-2011 is not well-defined in the airport's current master plan, but it is understood will be better defined in the review.

(3) While the airport has its own preferred direction of growth (defined by current ownership boundaries), all reasonable alternatives need to be tested. This work could unnecessarily delay the Core Strategy and could be abortive if the Master Plan review suggests a different approach.

The growth of the airport is a by-product of population and employment growth. Any economic slowdown would result in reduced demand for aviation, and therefore slower growth in facilities at BIA than the Air Transport White Paper or the airport master plan envisaged. The adverse effect of this would be continued reliance on other airports, involving longer surface journeys, contrary to the government's aim of reducing 'leakage' to airports outside the South West. A stronger political emphasis on limiting the climate change impacts of aviation could also constrain growth. However, the current and proposed planning policies both designate as Green Belt the land around the airport, which is therefore protected from short-term demands to release it for other uses.

Monitoring and review

Surface access improvements and public transport use will be monitored, particularly the proportion of air passengers using the Flyer bus link.