Wednesday 24 April 2019

Night flight restrictions 'cannot be acceptable'

John Manning

Halving night time flights in and out of Dublin Airport 'cannot be acceptable' according to the Minister for Transport who appeared to nail his colours to the mast on the future of planning conditions restricting night time flying attached to Dublin Airport's proposed new runway.

Addressing the Oireachtas Select Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Minister of Transport, Shane Ross was asked if planning conditions for the runway would lead to the halving of night-time flights across then entire runway network of the airport.

Minister Ross confirmed that was the daa's prediction and said that situation was 'obviously something that is not acceptable'.

The comment will make local residents anxious, who have argued strongly that those planning conditions restricting night-time flying at the airport should stay in place.

The daa want the conditions removed, saying they would restrict the growth of the airport and damage its business, and a new EU directive has offered the authority a possible path to getting what they want.

It was the progress of primary legislation to enact that regulation that the Minister was at Committee to discuss.

Earlier this year, Minister Ross announced that Fingal County council would be appointed the new noise regulator for Dublin Airport, giving the council the decision on whether those controversial planning conditions are overturned or not.

Minister Ross laid out a timetable for the enacting of the legislation to put the system in place and told committee members how the system would work.

Once Fingal County Council are officially appointed noise regulator for the airport, it will be open to the daa to challenge those planning conditions under the new EU directive.

Fingal County Council will have to review that application and a three month public consultation process has been promised by the Minister to make sure all the stakeholders, including local residents, get their say.

However, Minister Ross appeared to suggest the outcome he would like to see when he equated those planning conditions staying in place with 'everything going wrong'.

He said: 'If everything went wrong and if the planning restrictions came in as they now are, it would halve the put through of night time traffic. That is what is predicted by the daa. That is obviously something that is not acceptable...'

However, when challenged if that meant the decision is already made, Minister Ross said 'no'. He said the regulator would be 'absolutely independent'. 'We can't put pressure on them or tell them what to do,' Minister Ross added.

The process to get the new noise regulator in place is already 18 months behind schedule. But the Minister assured the committee that the system would be in place and decision on any restrictions that might be placed on the operation of the new runway would be made in time for its opening.

Fingal Independent