Residents affected by the development of a new runway at Dublin Airport should be involved at the outset of building a new regime governing noise control at Irish Airports, according to a local TD.
That new regime puts a unit within the Irish Aviation Authority the responsibility for noise control at airports and also potentially gives that unit the power to overturn restrictions on night-flying imposed by planning conditions on the new runway.
Those planning conditions have been the main source of dispute between the daa who want to overturn the restrictions and residents, who insist they must stay in place to mitigate the impact on the new runway on their lives.
Deputy Clare Daly has quizzed Minister for Transport, Shane Ross in the Dáil on the issue and asked 'whether the Minister has given any further consideration to the possibility of residents, particularly a representative of the Dublin Airport Stakeholders Forum, being involved in that process upfront and early on, and whether he has had any recent discussions with the DAA on that and where we are with it'.
Minister Ross promised there would be robust consultation requirements with all key stakeholders, including local residents' under the new regime.
He said: 'Before any decisions are made about aircraft noise management, there will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to have their views taken into consideration by the competent authority to be appointed in accordance with the regulation.'
Minister Ross admitted that setting up the new regime is 'taking far too long' and said he would be happy to 'arrange a meeting with a community representative from the forum group and the IAA in the coming weeks' on the issue.
Deputy Daly said it was important that residents were involved in the process at the earliest stage possible because they had 'expertise' that should be tapped into.
she said: 'The key point is that there is a unique expertise which people who live in the area but also who depend on the airport for their livelihood and who have a unique aviation expertise can bring to the table, that organisations such as the DAA cannot.'
Deputy Daly said: 'The communities around Dublin airport are beginning to look a bit like a war zone.' She said development works were underway for the runway and local communities were worried.
Minister Ross said the €320 million runway project 'must ultimately go ahead' but insisted that should happen with 'minimal discomfort for local people'.
He moved to reassure residents that their voices will be heard in the new regime on noise control and the debate over those controversial planning conditions, saying: 'The public must be assured that they have been given a fair hearing.'