£5 billion Severnside Airport could replace Cardiff and Bristol airports
BUILDING a £5 billion Severnside airport to replace those in Cardiff and Bristol would solve both sites' "limitations" and allow for a much-needed expansion, it has been suggested.
Plans for a Severn Estuary Airport between Chepstow and Newport have been submitted to the Airports Commission by MSP Solutions.
The consortium's ambitious scheme would see Bristol and Cardiff airports shut by 2029 to make way for a larger airport, by the M4 and alongside the railway line, able to accommodate 38 million passengers each year.
The project was one of around 50 presented to the government commission after it invited airports, campaigners, and companies to submit plans to better serve the needs of passengers across the UK.
In its detailed report published yesterday, August 7, MSP claims the plans are viable and in fact the only way forward for both South Wales and the South West.
"Both airports will tend to serve the same destinations," it says. "The concentration of all this traffic at a single site would allow a much greater choice of destination, higher frequency and operation of bigger aircraft offering lower pollution per passenger movement."
The report also suggests that Bristol Airport's "limitations" and "confined" location would not allow it to expand, meet long-term demand or allow for the development of long-haul flights.
The proposals would lead to job losses but MSP said thousands of workers could be transferred to the new site from Bristol and Cardiff airports.
If given the green light, the site would become the UK's first purpose-built 24-hour cargo airport. It would take between eight and ten years to build and serve between ten and 14 million passengers in its first year, eventually reaching 38 million.
But the firm's claims that Bristol Airport would be unable to grow sufficiently in future was strongly denied by Bristol Airport.
Robert Sinclair, chief executive officer at Bristol Airport, called the plans " far-fetched".
"The Airports Commission has received many proposals for different airport schemes right across the UK. It is important that these are deliverable solutions not somewhat far-fetched proposals reliant on the forced closure of a successful, privately-owned airport which supports thousands of jobs.
"As the leading airport serving South West England and South Wales, Bristol Airport already handles nearly six million passengers a year travelling to more than 100 direct destinations.
"With planning permission in place for facilities to handle 10 million passengers per annum, and new aircraft technology opening up access to long haul destinations, the airport is well positioned to meet the connectivity requirements of both regions in the medium and long term."
He added that a similar proposal was dismissed by the Future of Air Transport White Paper in 2003 on the basis that it would struggle to attract passengers or be economically viable.
"It is difficult to see how a different conclusion could be drawn today," he said.
The Airports Commission will now study the proposal and release its findings in 12 months' time.
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