UK Government dragged into Southampton Airport expansion debate

by Callum Tennant

The UK Government has been told that it should intervene over plans to expand Southampton Airport. Plans to extend the Airport’s runway were recently approved by Eastleigh Borough Council, but campaigners have now written to Secretary of State for Communities; asking the Government to ‘call in’ the application.

 Why does Southampton Airport want to expand?

 Unlike other controversial airport expansion plans, Southampton Airport is not trying to build a new runway, it is trying to expand its current one.

Due to the Airport’s short runway, only short haul flights can currently land at Southampton. The Airport wants to expand its runway by 538ft to allow the operation of long-haul flights, which it says could more than 1,000 jobs.

Why are the plans controversial?

 Environmental campaigners are opposed to expanding the runway due to concerns over increased emissions and noise pollution.

The BBC has reported that the number of people affected by noise would jump from 11,450 in 2020 to 46,050 in 2033. However, the airport has said that it will help residents to soundproof their homes to minimise this.

The airport has also said that it will cap passenger numbers at 3 million a year. But campaigners also oppose the move on environmental grounds, saying that increasing greenhouse gas emissions flies in the face of the “climate crisis” that the council has declared.

What will happen next?

 Campaigners will now try and force the UK Government to intervene directly in the issue. As concerns over climate change have grown, there is an increasingly common precedent of central government intervening in what were previously local cases.

Despite receiving permission from its local council in April, Leeds Bradford Airport had its expansion plans put on hold after the Secretary of State for Communities decided to call in the project.

If the Secretary of State does decide to ‘call in’ Southampton Airport’s runway expansion plan, then a public inquiry led by a planning inspector or lawyer will evaluate the project before giving an advisory recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Do you think Southampton Airport should be able to expand its runway? Let us know in the comments below.

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