Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The impact of Bristol Airport expansion plans

Our video plea to Ontario Teachers
about the impact of Bristol Airport expansion plans

Your retirement income will cost us our health, our well-being and our environment. Are you happy with this?’

Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl

Working with the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion Alliance,  myself and 3 other school pupils have made a video film appealing directly to teachers in the Ontario region in Canada, asking them to take a hard look at the environmental and social impact of their pension fund investment in Bristol Airport. Bristol Airport is owned and run by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP).

The OTPP is one of the world’s largest institutional investors. We decided to ask the Ontario teachers if they believed the drive for profit to maximise their pensions is worth the damage further expansion of Bristol Airport would cause:

‘Your retirement income will cost us our health, our well-being and our environment. Are you happy with this? We are asking you to think about the price that we are paying for your retirement. We are asking you to take stock. We are asking for your help.’
The short film was filmed in the Mendip Hills AONB, taking in the Lulsgate site of the airport.

We were making the point that:
‘The Airport site will sprawl into the protected area of the Green Belt, harming wildlife habitats, insect populations and the rural landscape around the Mendip Hills, one of our national Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.’

The film joins the national actions taken recently by school students in the UK and across the world to focus attention on pollution and climate change. The Airport is the main cause of traffic pollution and congestion to the south of Bristol. Airport expansion will destroy swathes of the Green Belt for additional parking and increase other hazards such as illegal car parking in surrounding fields and villages.

Scarlett Vesper

We were questioning why it is necessary to increase passenger numbers by 50% by 2022 when the Airport loses money on budget flights. To increase income against aviation loss, and boost the value of the airport, OTPP must suck in yet more cars for the hugely profitable parking operation:
‘The Airport is very badly served by public transport. It has one dedicated coach service and no rail links. So 69% of passengers arrive by car – a greater number of cars than in any other European airport. Your pension fund knows this and wants to take advantage.’

Traffic South of Bristol

We ended the video with a direct appeal to the teachers of Ontario to take stock and refuse to accept unethical and unsustainable investment as the basis for their pensions:
‘We are asking you to think about the price that we are paying for your retirement. We are asking you to take stock. We are asking for your help.’

For further information see

About the Author

Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig 
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes posts about birding, conservation and environmental issues  from around the world. 

She has been involved in the UK organisation of the Youth Strikes encouraging young people from around the world to not go to school once a month and protest instead demanding immediate action to prevent climate breakdown. This is an interview in New Statesman.

She was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people

She organised four narure camps for children and teenagers since 2015 and is helping to run four more in 2019. She also organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans two more in 2019. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Visible Minority Ethnic people and is President. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. 

She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She is a Minister in Chris Packham's Manifesto for Nature in 2018 and spoke in front of 10,000 people at the Walk for Nature. She has also appeared on TV and radio and is particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-silent-roars-2017-online

She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017. She was also listed as one of Bristol's BME top 100 powerlist.

She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She became the youngest person to see 5000 birds in 2019 age 16 and is looking forward to visiting Brazil birding in 2019 and hopes to see half the birds in the world there. Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter. If you would like to contact Mya-Rose about her work, please e-mail helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk.

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