Friday 22 November 2019

Uncertainty over crucial new EU airport noise law

Dublin Airport could risk losing millions of passengers under planning conditions connected to its new runway
Dublin Airport could risk losing millions of passengers under planning conditions connected to its new runway
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

There is still no definitive timeframe for the introduction of legislation to make Fingal County Council the competent authority to administer an EU noise directive that will cover Dublin Airport, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has conceded.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) insists the legislation needs to be in place as a matter of urgency to ensure the airport operator can tackle two onerous conditions attached to the construction of the new €320m runway at Dublin Airport that would curtail the overall number of flights the gateway could handle.

Mr Ross said that when a formal draft heads of a bill is written, there will be "more clarity on the timeframe" for the introduction of the legislation.

"I can assure you that this is a priority for me and my department," Mr Ross said in response to a parliamentary question earlier this week.

The appointment of Fingal County Council as the independent airport noise regulator for Dublin Airport was announced earlier this year.

The government had anticipated that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) would be appointed to the role.

However, Mr Ross said last October that legal advice from the Attorney General's office has meant it "would not be consistent with the principles of good corporate governance of the IAA as a whole" to appoint the authority as the competent body to enforce the legislation that will be drafted to adhere to the EU noise regulation.

Planning permission was granted in 2007 for Dublin Airport's new 3.1km runway. It is due to open in 2021.

But one of the conditions attached by An Bord Pleanála would prohibit the new runway's use between 11pm and 7am - a period that includes the airport's extremely busy morning operations.

The second condition would cap the number of total flights at the airport between 11pm and 7am at 65. The airport currently handles about 100 flights during that time.

Dublin Airport handled almost 30 million passengers last year.

The DAA has been warning since last year that if the new runway went live with the two conditions attached, Dublin Airport would lose three million passengers within a year - and could lose as many as 80 million over 20 years.

Earlier this week, the incoming chairman of the DAA, Basil Geoghegan, reiterated those warnings to the Oireachtas Transport Committee. He said it was imperative that Fingal County Council be given the resources necessary to establish its regulatory office prior to the legislation being enacted.

Irish Independent

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