The operator of Dublin Airport has been told to install 16 new noise-measuring stations across Dublin, Wicklow and Meath over the next 18 months. The instruction came amid controversy over noise from aircraft using unexpected flight paths arising from the airport’s new North Runway.
A number of councillors told a Fingal County Council meeting on Monday that residents were losing faith in the local authority as they perceive it is failing to enforce the conditions imposed on airport operator DAA at the time permission was granted for the new runway.
A planning enforcement action against the flight paths used from the North Runway is ongoing. The council said information it received from the DAA in response to a warning letter last Monday was being reviewed. DAA first responded to the council last October.
“A good neighbour, that’s what we haven’t got,” deputy mayor Cathal Boland told the meeting as he called on the council’s planning director to deal with the enforcement file in an expeditious manner. “Our reputation is on the line... We need to take real positive aggressive action to see that this is sorted.”
Cllr Darragh Butler said the council “don’t come out of this very well”, and that it has to “show our teeth on this issue”.
The council, as the planning enforcement authority, “needs to enforce the restrictions that are in place”, said Cllr Eoghan O’Brien, while Cllr Ann Graves said residents were “absolutely being driven insane by noise from aircraft”.
The council’s Aircraft Noise Competent Authority (ANCA) issued the order for more monitoring stations in letters that were released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act. The devices are to be in place by August 24th, 2024, exactly two years after the opening of the runway.
There were already seven noise-monitoring stations in situ. Four of the new devices have already been installed and delivery of the 12 outstanding permanent stations is to bring the total to 23. A further two mobile units are also expected no later than the end of November.
In a statement DAA said it expects to meet the target date for rolling out the stations, and suggested it could “substantially beat” the deadline. However, it also said completion was contingent on a number of tasks outside of its control.
At a local area committee meeting last week councillors were told the expansion of the noise-measuring systems at Dublin Airport was required by the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Act 2019. Agreement was recently reached regarding the locations for the new Webtrak monitors. “These systems are due to be put in place and made visible to the public over the coming 24 months,” the local authority said.
Amongst the 23 sites are ones as far away as Ashbourne, Co Meath, Bray, Co Wicklow, and Lucan in west Dublin. Also included are a string of small communities in north Co Dublin, including Ballyboughal, where residents have been complaining about unexpected aircraft noise.
Cllr Boland said it was disappointing that the Webtrack systems were not operational when the North Runway opened last August. “It is unacceptable that there is a 24-month lead-in time for the full roll-out of the noise-measuring system.”
Separate concerns have been raised regarding fumes from aircraft departing the runway, notably in the Ridgewood, Rivervalley and Boroimhe areas of Swords.
Councillors were told last week that the Environmental Protection Agency has a continuous airport-based monitor operated by DAA, which also conducts air quality monitoring at 11 external locations in the vicinity of the airport.
“The most recent [monitoring] report, from Q2, 2022, shows that the above parameters are below the relevant annual limit values and within the allowed criteria of short-term limit values at all monitoring sites,” a response to councillors noted.
The new runway was not operational at that time.