MIAMI – After a marathon meeting that lasted 19 hours, the project on a runway extension at Southampton Airport (SOU) won a favorable vote from the Eastleigh Borough Council. The vote did not go thru without opposition as the count showed 22 Councillors in favor while 13 voted against the project and one abstained.

According to the Eastleigh Borough Council planning register, the plan concerns the “construction of a 164-meter runway extension at the northern end of the existing runway, associated blast screen to the north of the proposed runway extension, removal of existing bund and the reconfiguration and extension of existing long stay car parking to the east and west of Mitchell Way to provide additional long-stay spaces. This application is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment.”

Southampton Airport’s Operations Director, Steve Szalay, while warmly welcoming the decision, stated “this is the news that we had been hoping for” and further added, “By listening to the overwhelming public and business support, as well as the planning officer’s recommendation to approve, the councilors 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.”

Project Opposition

The project was opposed by several associations including AXO (Airport Extension Opposition) and Extinction Rebellion Winchester.

The former negatively commented on the vote by saying, “The runway extension could also make life unbearable for the 46,000 residents affected by the noise from planes that are considerably larger and noisier than the ones that normally use the airport. This is an unacceptable price to pay for a development designed to bring increased profits to its operators and whose economic benefits to the area have been greatly exaggerated.”

The latter concurred by declaring “This decision was made in the face of a multitude of facts that this will be detrimental to the health of residents in Eastleigh, Winchester and Southampton. This is not to mention the catastrophic and accelerating impact decisions like this have on climate change.

The UK airport is owned and operated by AGS, is located 85km from London-Heathrow (LHR) and 7km from the city center. It has a runway 5653ft (1723mt) long, with a heading of 02/20, and the largest aircraft to land at the airport was Air Force One Boeing 757, used by US President Donald Trump to attend the D-day memorial. In 2019 1,781,457 passengers passed thru SOU.

Featured image: Southampton Airport