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Planning Application Frequently Asked Questions

This page will be updated shortly following the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to allow Bristol Airport’s appeal to expand our capacity from 10 million passengers per annum to 12 million.

What development is being proposed in the planning application?

Under the plans, the terminal will be further enlarged to create additional space for passenger and baggage facilities, and a canopy extension will be created over a pedestrianised forecourt. A third multi-storey car park will be constructed to the north of the terminal, served by a new loop road layout to improve traffic flow. Silver Zone will be extended to the south using land already in the airport’s ownership, and local highway improvements will focus on the A38 junctions with West Lane and Downside Road. Improvements to airside infrastructure will include widening of aprons and new taxiways, but no runway extension is being sought.

How many passengers does Bristol Airport currently handle in a year?

Approximately 8.7 million passengers are expected fly in or out of Bristol Airport in 2018. Forecasts suggest this will increase to more than nine million in 2019, reaching the current cap of 10 million passengers a year by 2021. Raising this limit to 12 million passengers a year would provide headroom for growth to meet forecast demand to 2026.

Where will this growth come from?

As more destinations become available at greater frequency, many passengers currently using airports outside the region are expected to choose to fly to and from Bristol. Growth in demand is also linked to the performance of the regional economy, with increased prosperity resulting in greater propensity to fly for both leisure and business reasons. Inbound tourism is also expected to continue to grow. 

How many additional flights will this result in?

Annual aircraft movements (arrivals and departures) are expected to reach 97,393 at 12 million passengers per annum – an increase of just over 23,800 compared to the total number of flights in 2017.

Will there be more night flights?

No increase to the current annual limit of 4,000 night flights (between 11:30 and 06:00) is proposed, although the airport is seeking to remove seasonal restrictions which stipulate how this quota must be distributed between summer and winter.

What impact will the proposed development have on the environment and local communities?

Development will be accompanied by a new Section 106 Agreement which will mitigate the impacts of the application. This is likely to include obligations around surface access, noise and other local impacts.

What are the benefits of the proposed development?

As well as connecting businesses to new markets, enabling tourists to visit the region and supporting inward investment, Bristol Airport is also a major local employer. Just under 4,000 people currently work on the airport site. This is expected to rise by more than 1,000 by the time the airport is handling 12 million passengers a year. Development is forecast to generate additional benefits of £1.4 billion to the regional economy over the next decade. Connectivity provided by flights to and from Bristol also helps friends and families stay in touch and enables local people to enjoy different cultures, climates and experiences.

How does this relate to the airport’s Draft Master Plan?

Government’s recommend that airports produced Master Plans to help inform the local planning process and provide transparency for local communities and businesses. When published next year, Bristol Airport’s Draft Master Plan will provide an overview of long-term development opportunities looking as far ahead as 2050, by which time demand is forecast to reach around 20 million passengers a year. Development proposed on this planning application will be consistent with this long-term vision and is a practical first step intended to make best use of the existing site.

What happens next?

Full details of the planning application can be viewed on North Somerset Council’s web site ( and comments are invited from statutory consultees and members of the public. The application will be considered by the Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee with determination expected within 16 weeks.