'All we want is to be treated fairly' - Residents vow to continue their protests against new Dublin airport runway

Farmer says he will lose his home, farm and livelihood

Residents staged a four hour long protest outside St Margaret’s GAA club while the daa held an information meeting for those who will be affected by the new development last night.
Residents staged a four hour long protest outside St Margaret’s GAA club while the daa held an information meeting for those who will be affected by the new development last night.

Sarah Slater

A group of residents have vowed to continue their protests against plans to develop a  €320m runway at Dublin Airport.

The move comes after more than 20 farmers and property owners living along Kilreesk lane in St Margaret’s north Dublin lost their right to appeal a High Court decision to the Supreme Court on Tuesday in a bid to stop the runway from being built.

The residents staged a four hour long protest outside St Margaret’s GAA club while the daa held an information meeting for those who will be affected by the new development last night.

The new runway, which is due to be finished by 2021, has been planned for since the late 1960s and has featured in subsequent county development plans.   

Approval for the 3,110 metre runway was granted by An Bord Pleanála in 2007. However, due to the economic downturn, the project was put on hold for several years.

The daa has said that the recovery in the economy has seen passenger numbers reach record levels with 30 million passengers travelling through Dublin Airport last year.  

They have also pointed out that as traffic has grown at Dublin Airport, the need to progress the project has become more important and immediate, and the decision to progress the runway was taken in April 2016. 

Fifty-year-old farmer and protest group spokesperson Jim Scully who has lived along Kilreesk lane in St Margaret’s north Dublin since 1989. Over that time he has built up a substantial dairy farm.

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Mr Scully and his family live now, is located 1.5km from the current runway. This will fall to 0.5Km when the new runway is completed.

He farms 75 acres he owns along with another 60 acres he leases from the daa with his brother John and 27-year-old daughter Aine. 

Dairy Farmer Jim Scully.
Dairy Farmer Jim Scully.

Mr Scully, who will lose his home, farm and livelihood said:“ We will continue our protests against the new runway as all we want is to be treated fairly. We have lost our right to appeal our case to the Supreme Court. We now are left with no other option but to protest.

“The costs already spent by the 21 homeowners, most affected by the new runway have run well past €250,000 and this is to defend their homes, and rights as citizens. The situation with our fight against the runway is that the legal process is at an end. 

“The real crux of the matter is that the daa refuse to even discuss what it (runway plans) is doing to the families living along this lane, along with their businesses being destroyed.

“First the daa offered 20 per cent above the market value of our house and all the properties along this lane and now that’s gone to 30 per cent but nothing for our lands and livelihoods. 

“Their offer means nothing to me nor my family. Where are we supposed to go in this day and age. Trying to go  and set-up again on a new land would be financially impossible.

“Essentially people are damned if they do stay, as they will be subjected to 100 dB noise every two minutes over their homes, or lose their dreams homes which most are on family lands - some fourth and fifth generations that existed prior to Dublin airport ever being there.

“It is only fitting and right that the residents are provided the opportunity to receive commercial value for their properties and lands, after all it is clear their is a bigger plan that has been kept from the owners of those lands - some who have owned and farmed them for generations.”

As a result of the plans, several homeowners have been offered a voluntary buy out scheme.  As part of this, Voluntary Dwelling Purchase Scheme, being offered by the daa, the group has been offered the current market price of their homes along with an additional 30 per cent on top of its value.

Last November prior to this week’s failed court appeal, Mr Justice Max Barrett dismissed three actions, by the local residents over the development of a 3,110 metre runway, located on 261 hectares in townlands north and north west of the airport terminal building.

While expressing his sympathies to the residents, Mr Justice Barrett, said he admired what he called, ”respect for their fighting spirit," but added that they had "not raised any points of exceptional public importance”.

Mr Scully added: “I don’t wish to condemn my family and future generations to live in an environment that will be so radically different from the healthy rural lifestyle that we presently enjoy.

“Neither do I want them to live in an environment that will have an undoubted effect both on their physical and mental health from noise and air pollution and devastate their livelihood.

“The failed court action was not about stopping the new runway it was about delaying it until daa management sit down and talk to us and look at how our lives are being devastated. It’s not about the law, it’s about getting justice and we haven’t gotten that yet.”

In response, the daa has said that over the past two years, they have been in correspondence or met with Mr Scully and the property owners either on an individual or group basis on several occasions.

A spokesperson added: “We wrote to all 39 residents who are eligible for the voluntary dwelling purchase scheme relating to North Runway.   In that letter, we invited residents to contact us directly if they would like to discuss the matter in more detail.  

“We have had requests from a number of residents to meet to discuss our offer further.

“The voluntary dwelling purchase scheme applies to dwellings only, and neither farm, commercial nor any other non-residential property is covered by its terms.

“The voluntary dwelling purchase scheme is one of 31 planning conditions set down by An Bord Pleanalá as part of the planning permission approval.  It was submitted to Fingal County Council and approved before the project commenced.”

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