The California Coastal Commission approved the proposal to build 1,000-foot safety strips at each end of Santa Barbara Airport’s main runway on Tuesday despite strong concern about the plan’s environmental impact.

In order to install the safety strips, the airport will have to bulldoze parts of the Goleta Slough, and divert Los Carneros Creek and Tecolotito Creek so that the runway can be moved 80 feet to the west. The strips comply with new Federal Aviation Administration standards designed to give airplanes and emergency crews extra space in the event of a botched takeoff or landing. The CCC was responsible for making sure the $16 million plan would meet California environmental protection regulations.

The CCC postponed the earlier meetings to review the proposal’s environmental impact report. Tuesday’s meeting at the Radisson Hotel on Cabrillo Boulevard saw heated debate, but the commission ultimately voted against opponents of the plan who said the damage to surrounding wetlands would be unacceptable.

The Goleta City Council opposed moving the runway because it would mean airplanes flying lower over nearby residential areas. The council suggested an alternate plan called the Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS), which would place crumbled concrete at the end of the existing runway to bring planes to a quick stop.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the CCC questioned an FAA official about the feasibility of the EMAS plan. FAA Manager of Safety and Standards Alforth Chan said that although EMAS was incorporated at Burbank Airport, it would not be suitable for the smaller planes that fly into SBA.

“An EMAS plan does nothing to add safety in the case of an emergency undershoot landing,” Chan said. “It is not a substitute for a increased safety area and should be considered a last alternative for SBA.”