Phased evolution


A planning application for expansion of the airport to accommodate 12 million passengers a year will be submitted to North Somerset Council this autumn.

This proposal represents the next stage in our exciting, longer-term plan for delivering the airport the region needs now and in the future. The feedback we received in response to ‘A world of opportunities’ has been invaluable in shaping our plans. As part of the phased approach towards the delivery of our Master Plan, we would like to take the opportunity to hear your views on the forthcoming planning application.


Current planning approval layout

Scenario Current Plan

Towards 12 million passengers a year

12 mppa

We are currently preparing a planning application for growth of the airport to 12 mppa. As a first step in the evolution of the airport, our proposals will cater for forecast passenger demand to at least the mid-2020s.  

At the moment, we are still finalising all the details of this 12 mppa capacity airport. Your comments will help shape our proposals before we submit them. 

Following submission of the planning application and supporting information, the Council will publicise the application, inviting formal representations on the proposals. The Council will determine the application in line with standard procedures, taking into account development plan policy, national planning policy and guidance, and other relevant ‘material considerations’. We anticipate that a decision as to whether or not planning permission is granted will be taken by a full meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee.

  • Increased capacity while retaining flexibility for the future.           

  • Making best use of the existing site.                                                       

  • Will form part of the next Master Plan consultation in late Spring 2018.       

In the early stages of the planning application process. Scope could include:

  • Terminal extensions and new canopy over landscaped plaza.

  • Additional multi-storey and surface car parking.

  • Local junction improvements.

  • On-site gyratory system.

  • Airfield enhancements – but no runway extension.

  • No increase in annual night flights.

  • Opportunity to address local impacts.


Consultation point

What comments do you have on our plans for increasing the airport’s capacity from ten to 12 million passengers per year? 

We are proposing highways improvements to the A38 and exploring opportunities to improve public transport access to the airport. Are there any other transport improvements that you think we should consider as part of our proposals  for 12 mppa? 

Do you have any comments on how we should manage the effects of our proposals on the environment and  local communities?

What opportunities are there to enhance the local area through our proposals for 12 mppa?


A 15 million passenger future

15 mppa

It is important that our Master Plan looks ahead as far as possible, so that the airport, its partners and our neighbours can plan for the future. Our Draft Master Plan, when published for public consultation later this year, will set out further details on how the airport could grow gradually through the 2030s and 2040s towards a possible 20 mppa. 

As in recent decades, future growth will be phased to meet forecasted passenger demand. At every stage, the airport will need to secure planning and other consents, but flexibility is essential, and at this early stage it is not possible to specify when and how phased expansion could be delivered.

We are clear, however, that growth beyond 12 mppa would require an extension to the airport’s operational area, with the acquisition of adjoining land. Expansion to the north of the runway would allow for the next stage of the airport’s growth; perhaps to around 15 mppa by the mid-2030s. 

An airport of that capacity would necessitate significant infrastructure investment in order to meet industry and customer requirements. Our current working assumptions are that a first phase of the extended apron platform would be justified, and that the terminal would need to be enlarged to provide additional security, retail and catering, waiting and baggage-handling capacity.

As we have seen, it is difficult to be too prescriptive at this early stage; many of the options relating to layout and design will only be resolved  once there is more certainty in  respect of land acquisition, the  Green Belt boundary, and the  potential major investment in the  A38 and mass transit.

Resolution of these issues will  be critical to the airport’s future decision-making, not least in relation to the required car parking capacity, and the relationship between the existing terminal and any possible new or satellite terminal, aircraft stands, and a potential mass transit station.   

It will also influence the opportunity for additional on-site employment.


Arriving at 20 million 

20 mppa

Our current forecasts suggest that by the mid-2040s, Bristol Airport could require a capacity of up to 20 mppa in order to serve passenger demand across the South West of England and South Wales.

Growth of the airport will, as before, be phased to meet actual demand. Major investment in aviation and off-site transport infrastructure, whether by the airport or its partners, requires long-term strategic planning and the building of wide support. Our Master Plan will set out our preferred approach to growth beyond 15 mppa, identifying the key issues that will need to be addressed or resolved in the next 10-15 years.

The most fundamental of these could be the possible delivery of mass transit, linking the airport directly to Bristol city centre and/or the national rail network, by heavy rail, light rail or tram. A mass transit station at the heart of an expanded airport would have a profound impact on the design and functionality of the airport, influencing major layout and land-use decisions through the 2020s and 2030s.

We recognise, however, that life beyond 2040 will remain uncertain for many years to come. Technologies will continue to advance at pace, and our plans and future proposals need to be adaptable and resilient.

Flexibility will be key. We will respond to changes in aviation, a sector particularly sensitive to economic trends, and where advances in technology will deliver quieter, more fuel-efficient, and possibly larger aircraft. Similarly, we must anticipate other potentially seismic changes, for example a permanent shift away from the private car towards shared and connected vehicles, with major implications for car parking, and the operation andviability of public transport (including mass transit) and taxis.

In turn, these and other factors will have a direct bearing on the shape of the future airport, from the provision of additional jobs to the character of the site. Our Master Plan, built on partnership and transparency, will be our framework for realising benefits for all.

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