Environmental campaigners go head-to-head with airport authorities.

Plans for an £80m expansion of Bristol airport have been slammed by campaigning coalition Stop Bristol Airport Expansion as a six-week period of public consultation on the proposals begins this week.

The five-year plan includes doubling the size of the terminal, building an additional 12 aircraft stands, a multi-storey carpark and an onsite hotel. Supporters of the plan say it will double the number of jobs at the airport over the next 25 years, in which period the number of passengers will reach 12 million.

Jeremy Birch, of Bristol Friends of the Earth, said: "This is a totally unnecessary and very damaging expansion of the airport. The airport is a major and growing source of climate-changing greenhouse gases.” He also drew attention to the plight of the local tourist industry, saying: “Is it any wonder that Weston-super-Mare is in dire straits and trying to spend millions of pounds to rectify this if it's cheaper to travel abroad for your weekend breaks, stag and hen nights? We should be supporting South West tourism, not destroying it."

Airport managing director Andrew Skipp was quick to defend the plans, saying: “The airport will have the smallest land mass of any regional airport of comparable size - we deliver a lot for the money in terms of passenger numbers. If you ring-fence the South West and say no one is allowed to fly abroad from here, they will just fly from somewhere else.”

Members of the public have until December 12 to express their views on the proposals for the airport expansion.