A dairy farmer who is set to lose his home, farm and livelihood when a new €320m runway at Dublin Airport gets underway just wants to be “treated as a human being not a statistic.”
Jim Scully, 56, a father of three daughters, has lived along Kilreesk lane in St Margaret’s north Dublin since 1989. Over that time he has built up a substantial dairy farm since his father Michael James bought land there back in the 1960s after moving from Sligo.
Jim’s late father bought what was then known as a milk round in the city centre, expanded it and eventually purchased land where Jim and his family live now which is located 1.5km from the current runway. This will fall to 0.5Km when the new runway is completed.
He farms the 75 acres he owns along with another 60 acres he leases from the DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) with his brother John and 27-year-old daughter Aine.
“We milk around 160 cows and we rear all offspring beef. We also keep three broodmares and 10 store horses which are all thoroughbred."
However, his house and farmyard will be directly under the new flight path at Dublin Airport.
The new runway, due to be finished by 2021, has been planned for since the late 1960s and has featured in subsequent county development plans.
A planning application was submitted in 2005 and approval was received in 2007 from An Bord Pleanála to build a 3110 metre runway, 1.6km north of the existing main runway. Due to the economic downturn, the project was put on hold.
"I recognise its importance to the economy and future growth of the country as a whole. My concern obviously relates to the impact this runway will have on my family, my home and my livelihood," said Jim.
The DAA has said 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.
The North Runway will be delivered within the airport’s existing land bank, a result of years of planning which has allowed this land to be safeguarded for over 40 years.
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, Jim has been offered the current market price of his four bedroom detached home along with an additional 30pc on top of its value.
No offer is being made by the Authority for his land nor loss of livelihood.
“They also offered to pay for insulation of the dwelling house but that’s no good to me.
“If we don’t accept this offer we are left with nothing as there seems to be no alternative. I along with my family, my brother and my daughter are facing a wipe out every way we turn.
“First the DAA offered 20pc above the market value of the house and now that’s gone to 30pc but nothing for our land and livelihood.
“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.
“We have attended a couple of information meetings with the Authority but they have never actually sat down with me or my family to talk about this whole situation and what it is doing to us.
“I attended a meeting in 2016 with them at their invitation and outlined clearly our situation. They noted everything down but to date, I have not received any reply. I also pleaded with Fingal County Council to consider not granting planning permission to the new runway but that didn’t stop anything.
“We feel like just a number or statistic that has to be dealt with and a box that has to be ticked off. They have never treated us like human beings.
"This whole fight has nothing to do with money it’s to do with being treated as if we exist and about respect and that’s not what we have experienced so far.”
At the moment, the noise from the airport due to ongoing development and with flights taking off and landing would stop you in your tracks. It can be impossible to hear anyone talking to you. The buildings around here vibrate from the noise levels as it is.
“Even the priest has to stop any type of ceremony in the nearby church of St Margarets due to noise levels from the planes and the building shaking when planes are taking off or landing. Night flights are also expected to be allowed with the new runway so that will make sleep even impossible.
“There is already a noise decibel level of 90 which as anyone can imagine is very loud and emissions of toxic fumes that as of yet, have not been calculated.
“Tracks of land, buildings and houses are black from the plane fumes. Scores of people have left the area along where the DAA owns thousands of acres. Deserted houses are boarded up and parts of this area so far look like eerie ghost towns.”
Jim supplies his milk to Premier Dairies and milk from the dairy cows is tested continually for quality which Jim believes could be badly affected from the fumes of bigger planes using the new runway.
Jim, along with 21 over families who live along the lane brought a judicial review to the High Court in February but were refused permission to bring an appeal over plans for the new runway.
Last November, Mr Justice Max Barrett dismissed three actions, including 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 last week, Mr Justice Barrett, said he admired and what he called, "respect for their fighting spirit," but added that they had "not raised any points of exceptional public importance" that would allow the court grant permission to have their appeals considered by the Court of Appeal.
The challenges arose over Fingal Co Council's decision to extend the length of planning permission to the daa to construct the runway.
The proposed runway has been deemed vital, by parties including the DAA, to proposals to turn the airport into an international hub.
Residents sought to appeal the court's dismissal of their case. Their arguments had included that the development was illegal and that Fingal Council failed to consider or address their concerns about its effect on their homes and lands.
The residents who are affected by the new airport have appealed the High Court decision and an outcome is due in the next couple of weeks.
A new dairy unit would cost over €500,000
He has the support of Teagasc, Glanbia and the IFA in his bid to be treated fairly. In 2016, Teagasc estimated that the cost of setting up a new dairy unit for Jim stood conservatively at €594,000.
“Teagasc and Glanbia have outlined their concerns to me regarding the effect of noise and air pollution on the farm and their estimation of the cost of re-establishing a new dairy.
“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 court action is not about stopping the new runway it’s 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, Jim has been in correspondence with or met members of it’s community liaison and runway stakeholder teams either on an individual or group basis on many 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, and we are in the process of purchasing the first property under the scheme.
“We are happy to meet Jim any time to discuss his offer in more detail – our door is always open to meet and listen to our neighbours.
“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.”
The scheme will remain open for applications for three years after the new runway becomes operational for commercial flights.
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