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WATCH: Southampton runway extension agreed after early hours vote

WATCH: Southampton runway extension agreed after early hours vote

Saturday 10 April 2021

WATCH: Southampton runway extension agreed after early hours vote

The runway at one of the most important airports to the Channel Islands is to be extended after an earlier rejection was overturned in the early hours of Saturday.

Bosses at Southampton Airport had said that extending the runway by 164m was "critical" to the survival of the airport.

Those plans had the backing of Jersey's Government, who wrote to Eastleigh Borough Council's Chief Executive in December to voice support for expanding the airport, which provides a crucial link between Jersey and the South of England, and provides a direct line for islanders to access cancer and other critical care at Southampton Hospital. 

The States of Alderney also wrote in support of the proposal. Guernsey's government did not put in a representation until after the initial vote.

But Jersey and Alderney's arguments did not convince Eastleigh's Local Area Committee, which rejected the expansion bid at the end of March after two days of discussion.


CLICK TO ENLARGE: The Economic Development Minister's letter.

Naturalist Chris Packham was among those to make a representation before them, echoing environmental impact concerns from campaigners and Southampton City Council itself in a video.

But that rejection has now been overturned by the full council, which voted 22 to 13 with one abstention.

They gave the plans the green light in the early hours after 19 hours of discussion, with an official announcement made as the time approached 02:30.


CLICK TO WATCH: The final part of the Southampton Airport runway extension debate and vote, which took place overnight on Microsoft Teams.

It said that the decision followed a "lengthy, extensive and robust" debate, adding that their decision was subject to a range of conditions, including the signing of a legal agreement to ensure health, ecology, air quality and noise issues were appropriately managed.

The Council also said that a Carbon Strategy to reduce emissions from the Airport's operations should be brought forward in addition to a plan to encourage the employment of local residents.

Southampton Airport’s Operations Director, Steve Szalay, said following the decision: “This is the news we have been hoping for and working so hard to achieve. By listening to the overwhelming public and business support, as well as the planning officer’s recommendation to approve, the councillors have safeguarded the future of the airport. The decision also ensures we are well placed to provide employment and support the region as we seek to recover post-pandemic."


Pictured: Southampton Airport said it was "excited about our future."

He added: “We are excited about our future. This positive decision allows us to further develop our plans, play a full part in the Solent Freeport and deliver on our commitments set out within the planning application, which will further enrich our neighbouring communities."

Express has approached Jersey's Government for comment.

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