Wednesday 21 August 2019

Three legal challenges against proposed new runway at Dublin Airport dismissed

A new runway is planned at Dublin Airport
A new runway is planned at Dublin Airport

Aodhan O'Faolain

The High Court has thrown out three legal challenges against plans for a new €320m runway at Dublin Airport.

In what were lengthy and detailed judgments Mr Justice Max Barrett dismissed actions that arose over the proposed development of a 3,110 metre runway, located on 261 hectares in townlands north and north west of the airport terminal building.

The second runway has been deemed vital by parties including the DAA to proposals to turn the airport into an international hub.

The cases have been adjourned to allow the various parties consider the decisions. It is not known if an appeal will be taken against any of the rulings.

The first of the three cases was brought by St Margaret's Concerned Residents Group - of which the individual residents are members - against the DAA.

The residents claimed certain pre-construction works carried out in December of last year on the proposed new runway by the DAA amounted to unauthorised development.

The development was carried out in breach of a condition of the planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanala in 2007 allowing the DAA construct the runway, they claimed.

They claimed a required waste management plan was not submitted to the local authority Fingal Co Council until February 2017 after the resident's solicitors had raised the matter. 

In his ruling Judge said "laws matter, rules matter;but mistakes happen" and in this case he was not exercising the court's discretion to find in favour of the residents.

The DAA had argued that no unauthorised development had occurred.

The second action was brought  by 22 individual residents - most with addresses at Kilreesk Lane, St Margaret's, Co Dublin who alleged the development was illegal and that Fingal Council failed to consider or address their concerns about its effect on their homes and lands.

The Judge said he respected the fighting spirit of the residents in this case, and again "sympathised" with them in the predicament they found themselves in.

However the court was satisfied to dismiss their action.

That case was against Fingal County Council and the State, with DAA plc as a notice party, which rejected the claims.

Turning to the action brought by Friends of the Irish Environment, the Judge said he was also dismissing their claim.

However the court said it did accept that there is a constitutional right to an environment as contended for by the group.

The environmental group's action was brought on grounds including the decision to grant planning permission is not in compliance with various EU directives such as the Habitats Directive as well as the 2000 Planning and Development Act and was unlawful.

The group also argued that the proposed runway would result in additional greenhouse gas emissions which will increase the pace of climate change.

That case was also brought against Fingal County Council and the State, with DAA plc as a notice party, which again rejected the claims.

Following the judgments the cases were adjourned for a week to allow all the parties consider the court's decisions.

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