Dublin Airport chief says initial work under way on €320m runway

DAA already has planning for runway but wants to alter a number of conditions

DAA is likely to award the main contract to build the new Dublin Airport runway in coming months and construction could start mid-year.

DAA is likely to award the main contract to build the new Dublin Airport runway in coming months and construction could start mid-year.

 

Initial work is under way at the site of Dublin Airport’s proposed €320 million runway, according to its chief executive, Kevin Toland.

The airport announced plans to build the new runway almost a year ago to mixed reaction from airlines, which favour the proposal but argue that its estimated €320 million price tag is too high, and from local communities, who fear its environmental impact.

Speaking to the Institute of International and European Affairs on Tuesday, Mr Toland said the airport recently began clearing and preparing the site for the new facility to the north of its existing runway. “We have already started work,” he added afterwards.

The airport’s owner, State company DAA, is likely to award the main contract to build the runway in coming months and construction of the airstrip itself could start some time around mid-year.

DAA already has planning permission for the runway but wants to alter a number of conditions limiting flights at night and particularly early in the morning, one of its busiest periods.

Those terms cap the number of flights to and from the airport between 11pm and 7am at 65 once the new runway is functioning. Already there are 100 aircraft movements between these hours and Mr Toland said Dublin was full early in the morning.

The company is preparing an environmental-impact statement that will accompany its application to change these conditions and hopes to complete this shortly.

He warned that imposing those limits would result in the loss of millions of passengers to the State and push up prices for the airlines and travellers left using the gateway.

Noise limit

Some local groups oppose the airport’s bid to alter the original planning conditions. Mr Toland argued that Dublin meets the requirements set out in a recent European Union directive designed to limit noise at airports.

These include assessing the noise-reduction measures applied to aircraft using the airport and determining the “noise issues” for the area around it. “Ninety-five per cent of planes using Dublin are of the quieter type,” he said. “This minimises the impact on people living nearby.”

The airport has taken other steps, including voluntary purchase of some homes closest to the new runway and providing noise insulation to others.

Mr Toland would not comment on Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s plan to review the operation of US customs and immigration pre-clearance at Dublin and Shannon following US president Donald Trump’s temporary ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

He also refused to comment on reports that US authorities in Dublin had turned away one individual since Mr Trump signed the ban on Friday.

However, he maintained that the pre-clearance facility helped attract transatlantic traffic to Dublin from other European countries and foreign investment to the Republic.

Dublin and Shannon are the only European airports with US pre-clearance. Mr Toland said that at least 16 others in the EU wanted these facilities.

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