ELF Community Regional Airport Work

By clairefowler

Whilst the big guys do the work on the big stuff, as usual ELF is down amongst the grassroots doing other airport work. Following the success of our regional airport expansion event last year, networks were established. Since that time ELF has assisted the Manston Airport Development Consent Order (DCO) local participants, Jason and Samara Hall-Jones, speakers at the ELF event. Shortly before the decision on the Manston Airport DCO was due to be issued, the decision date was deferred and more information requested. One of those requests concerned climate change impacts. ELF instructed Gethin Thomas at 39 Essex Chambers to draft a submission on behalf of ELF that was submitted by Jason and Samara as part of their own submissions. The Manston airport drew attention as the first DCO airport and as we anticipated at the time, Heathrow wouldn’t be far behind with its own DCO process.

On the back of the submission Gethin Thomas wrote a blog for ELF about climate change and airport expansion. This caused great interest amongst the ELF network of communities and can be read here https://elflaw.org/news/destination-net-zero-airport-expansion-and-climate-change/. Just in time the blog was brought to the attention of an ELF community in Bristol andformed part of an objection of a local resident to Bristol Airport’s expansion plans. Despite being recommended by Planning Officers, when the committee of North Somerset Council met on the 10th February and decided to refuse the application by Bristol Airport Ltd, climate change was a one of the reasons given.

ELF has been concerned for a while, that whilst Heathrow was drawing all the attention, under the radar,regional airports, over 30 of them, were applying to expand their air passenger capacity. If all were permitted, it would add an extra 100 million additional passengers annually.

Maybe there is a wind of change blowing, the wind of climate change? Bristol and Stanstead both refused and now Heathrow. A new awakening by local communities to the threats posed by climate change and how airport expansion adds to the problems of climate changing emissions. If there is a change in direction it is to be welcomed by the many millions of local people adversely affected by airports. These are all victories driven by local people, grassroots challenges to impacts on their communities, in the age of climate change.

To continue the theme of airports, ELF asked Jason Jones-Hall to write an article for our newsletter, on his reflections having learnt so much about environmental community participation in decision making and his frustrations that the Manston Airport DCO process has taken place without notice.