Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary is calling on the attorney general to end delays in publishing a regulation critical to the construction of Dublin Airport's second runway.
State-owned DAA, which operates Dublin Airport, has said that implementing new EU rules regulating aircraft noise was needed to allow it overcome some of the planning hurdles faced by the project.
Mr O'Leary called on the attorney general, Seamus Woulfe, on Wednesday to end unacceptable delays in publishing an order known as a statutory instrument (SI) that would implement part of the EU directive by giving the Irish Aviation Authority the power to regulate aircraft noise.
The Minister for Transport Shane Ross told the Dáil several months ago that he hoped to sign the SI in May. The attorney general's office is still drafting the order and there is no indication of when it will be ready.
"This is a simple statutory instrument, not some contentious piece of legislation," Mr O'Leary told The Irish Times. "It has been with them now for over 12 months."
In a statement he said that the time for the delay was over and that urgent action was needed on the second runway to prevent the Republic’s airport infrastructure falling behind international rivals.
Mr O’Leary added that there was growing frustration in the aviation industry at the hold up and said there was a fear that holidays would lead to further delays in getting the order signed.
He warned that Dublin Airport, which is on track to handle 30 million passengers this year, is full at peak times and would miss further growth opportunities if construction of the second runway was held up.
“We cannot get another departure slot in Dublin,” he said. “They might get one or two more long-haul flights in there, but if they want to grow to the next 35 or 40 million, they need more short-haul flights.”
Mr O'Leary pointed out that as Brexit approaches in 2019, there would be opportunities to lure traffic from the UK to Dublin.
DAA chief executive, Kevin Toland, has said that implementing the EU rules would be a key part of the airport's case for getting An Bord Pleanála to lift a planning condition for the runway that limits flights at Dublin to 65 between 11pm and 6am.
The SI would nominate the IAA as the competent authority to regulate aircraft noise and allow it to begin surveying levels at Dublin Airport. The DAA intends to begin building the runway, for which it has planning permission, while this work goes ahead.
Implementing the EU noise directive would require further legislation, which the Government is due to publish in the autumn and which the Oireachtas is scheduled to pass next year.
A spokesman for the department of transport, tourism and sport said Mr Ross’s officials were continuing to work with the attorney general’s office to bring the SI forward.
“This is complex legislation and the fact of the matter is that it takes time,” he said. “Of course the minister would prefer if this process could move more quickly - and indeed has acknowledged his concerns about the delays in the Dáil - but it has to be recognised that early delivery of potentially flawed legislation that falls to be resolved through the courts is not the right answer.”