'Economic disaster if third runway is not built'
Failure to build the third runway at Dublin Airport by 2021 will result in an "economic disaster" due to a lack of capacity, it has been warned.
Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) chief executive Dalton Philips said noise legislation needed to be urgently updated before the runway was completed, or airport bosses would be forced to reduce capacity from 100 flights between 11pm and 7am to just 65.
This would limit the ability of the State to grow the tourism industry, he said, speaking at the launch of the transport, tourism and sport Ireland 2040 capital plan.
"Building this piece of infrastructure is absolutely crucial," he said. "It would be an economic disaster if we couldn't build this. We need to have diggers out there from October. The runway needs to be built by 2021.
"Under the planning conditions, you cannot use the north runway from 11pm to 7am, and there is a restriction of 65 movements between 11pm and 7am. The conditions are such that once we build this airfield, we would have to take capacity out."
Transport Minister Shane Ross said legislation would be introduced in September, which was likely to be passed by December next.
He also said the rights of neighbours had been taken into account following consultation with the DAA and his department, but that the runway was needed.
"This is going to happen, it has to happen because the economy needs it," he said.
Mr Ross also said that a third terminal was being considered at Dublin Airport, which could be privately operated.