CITY council chiefs have made a U-turn on proposals to expand Southampton Airport.

Members of Winchester City Council’s cabinet aired concerns for a bid to extend the runway by 164 metres and increase the number of flights by 18,000 per year.

Councillors were told in 2018 the authority wrote “broadly welcoming” the proposals, but since the change of leadership there has been a change in stance.

Cllr Jackie Porter said: “We are raising an objection to the expansion of Southampton Airport based on following material considerations. One that the expansion of a number of flights from 39,800 to 57,800 would have a material adverse impact because of the likely increase level of noise which are inadequately mitigated.”

“The expansion significantly increases the carbon emissions which wouldn’t be mitigated by the development to the detriment to the climate and our climate emergency and our whole strategy at this council,” she continued.

“The minimal positive effect on the economic prosperity is far outweighed by the negative impact of the noise and the carbon.”

Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion have banded together to fight the plans. Calling themselves Airport eXpansion Opposition (AXO) they accept the need for a small regional airport, however, because of the climate crisis believes people must fly less.

Cllr Porter said: “We want to make it clear that we are not supporting the expansion which would allow larger aeroplanes to use the airport.

“Longer term some smaller aeroplanes may eventually use low carbon electricity but it is unlikely that larger planes will do so, certainly not before 2030, and most of the flights which are currently there could be accommodated by rail travel and we hope our government in declaring their climate change emergency is thinking along these lines also. However, the recent statements about Flybe probably mean that this is unlikely.”

Southampton Airport had previously said there is a need for a longer runway and vowed to grow “sustainably and responsibly, sensitive to the needs of the local community”.

The airport expansion is expected to create 400 new jobs and boost financial investment from £160m a year to £275m.