Unite, the UK’s leading union, has today (Thursday 22 July) given evidence at the public inquiry into the expansion of Bristol Airport. The union argued that giving the expansion plans the green light, will boost jobs in the region and will be in the long-term interests of the environment.

Expansion plans

Unite’s regional officer with responsibility for Bristol airport, John Sweeney, made the case that the expansion of the airport will directly create over 700 jobs, with a further 5,000 being indirectly generated in the airport’s supply chain.

At a time when many jobs in the region have been lost as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and with the jobs that would be created being largely skilled and well paid, giving the go ahead for the expansion of the airport will result in a major boost to the region’s economy.

Carbon footprint

Unite recognises there are concerns that the expansion of the airport will lead to an increase of its carbon footprint but believes that the proactive measures already being taken, more than offset these concerns.

The airport is already taking many measures to reduce its carbon footprint, for example all vehicles on the site are being converted to be electrically powered. The airport is also investing in solar panels to dramatically boost the amount of energy it generates.

Other airports

This needs to be considered alongside the fact that in 2019 an estimated 7.8 million passengers drove from the region to take flights from Gatwick and Heathrow, which in itself is a significant environmental concern and creates additional pollution.

Unite further argued that the airport has no control over the emissions from aircraft but the aerospace industry is actively working to create carbon neutral flights by 2030 and that Airbus which has a major facility in the South West at Filton, is confident that it will have a hydrogen powered commercial aircraft flying by the middle of this decade.

Regional economy

Unite regional officer John Sweeney said: “The expansion of Bristol airport will provide a significant boost to the regional economy in the South West and it will directly and indirectly create thousands of new jobs.

 “Granting the expansion of the airport will partially help to offset the damage to the economy that the South West has suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There are genuine environmental concerns about the airport’s expansion but the airport, is already taking great strides to reduce its carbon footprint. A refusal of the airports expansion will not resolve the environmental issues, but will simply result in them being kicked down the road to other regions.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.