Dublin Airport operator given go ahead for €200m tunnel

An Bord Pleanála grants permission despite objections including from Ryanair

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to the operator of Dublin Airport for a new €200 million tunnel at the airport.

The appeals board has granted planning permission for the tunnel under the airport’s “crosswind” runway after concluding that the proposal would not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on the amenities of the surrounding area or on traffic safety.

The decision upholds a grant of permission by Fingal County Council in February last year. That decision was appealed to the planning board by the airport’s biggest customer, Ryanair and north Dublin-based residents’ group, SMTW Environmental DAC.

DAA, meanwhile, appealed against five “unreasonable and overly onerous” conditions attached to the planning permission, and in its ruling, An Bord Pleanála has upheld DAA’s grounds of appeal in each case.


The DAA welcomed the appeals board decision.

“The tunnel is required to improve access and safety on the airfield, allowing for the segregation of aircraft and vehicles, and the movement of vehicles to the west apron, which has been restricted since the opening of the North Runway in August, 2022,” a spokesman said. “Access to the west apron is critically important to cargo operations, transit operations, general aviation, stand-by parking and contingency stands.”

The spokesman pointed out that the underpass “will be critical to ensure Dublin Airport maintains safety standards and meets future operational requirements”.

The project will create over 160 jobs during construction.

As part of the 131-page report by appeals board inspector, Mary MacMahon stated the proposed underpass “is a stand-alone, critical piece of infrastructure”.

Still, the project may yet face a fresh hurdle as there is now an eight-week period for objectors to bring a Judicial Review against the board’s decision.

Construction on the project is estimated to take about three years.

On behalf of Ryanair, Ray Ryan of BMA Planning told Fingal County Council that “if the current underpass project is allowed to proceed, it will contribute towards an excessively high per passenger price cap and damage the recovery of Irish aviation, which depends on the cost competitiveness of Dublin Airport”.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times