Somerset Council caves in to ‘bully boy’ tactics on walkway
local government |
Wednesday November 19, 2008 21:41 by FW: Stop Bristol Airport Expansion
As you may have heard by now, Stop Bristol Airport Expansion lost our case at North Somerset Council’s South Area meeting last Wednesday, with councillors voting to allow BIA’s ‘walkway’ to go ahead without having to seek full planning permission.
As far as Stop Bristol Airport Expansion are concerned, the councillors caved in to ‘bully boy’ tactics. They were convinced that if they were to turn down BIA’s application for a Certificate of Lawfulness and require BIA to submit a full planning application for the walkway, the decision would be sent to a judicial review which could make them liable for costs if they lost.
BIA had also made assurances that there would be no seats (other than those for disabled use) or refreshments in the walkway and that passengers would pass straight through to board their planes, thereby supposedly improving their operation but not increasing their passenger capacity. The councillors were also afraid that if they were to lose a judicial review they would also lose this concession from BIA.
We believe that it will be very difficult for the Council to enforce BIA's assurances and there still remains the fact that the walkway is actually shown on the airport’s major development plan, which BIA say they will submit in March 2009.
We also believe that if this decision had been referred to the Secretary of State it would have been an opportunity to end an obscure legal loophole.
It was very clear at the meeting that had the councillors not been intimidated in this way, a majority vote would have turned down the airport’s application for the Certificate of Lawfulness: Cllr Marter (Banwell and Winscombe Cons) proposed that the application was granted and Cllr Ap Rees (Hutton and Locking Cons) agreed as did Cllr Harley (Banwell and Winscombe Cons). Cllr Yamanka (Wrington Lib Dem), Tony Lake (Banwell and Winscome Cons), Cllr Gregor (Winford Independent) and Cllr Leimdorfer (Congresbury Green) all initially opposed the application. However, after considerable pressure, when it came to the vote, Cllr Gregor changed his position and Cllr Leimdorfer abstained, and the walkway application was passed.
There is now an open back door to allow the airport to expand by stealth.
However, while this is a disappointing outcome for the campaign, we will continue our preparations to oppose the proposed planning application to take passenger numbers up to 10 million per year by 2016.