Night flights over south Dublin during runway overhaul

Hundreds of flights will divert every week for more than a year from September.

An overhaul of the main runway at Dublin Airport will see hundreds of night-time flights diverted over south Dublin every week for more than a year from September. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

An overhaul of the main runway at Dublin Airport will see hundreds of night-time flights diverted over south Dublin every week for more than a year from September. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

An overhaul of the main runway at Dublin Airport will see hundreds of night-time flights diverted over south Dublin every week for more than a year from September.

The airport operates an average of 60 “movements” (takeoffs or landings) a night between 11pm and 5am, meaning about 420 flights will be affected every week, or about 1,800 a month.

The main runway is now 27 years old. Having dealt with four million take-offs and landings it now needs major refurbishment, which will be carried out by around 100 contractors between 11pm and 5am. The work will last 15 months.

Air traffic will be redirected to Runway 16/34, known as the “crosswind runway”.

It is generally used when wind direction changes impede use of the main runway – about 5 per cent of all flight movements.

The works mean there will be two alternative approaches to the airport. One comes from the northwest over mainly rural areas like The Naul in north Co Dublin.

However, the other path comes in from the east and requires pilots to gradually descend over areas such as Bray, Shankill, Blackrock, Clontarf and Artane before finally reaching Santry when aircraft are around 275m (900ft) above the ground.

One Santry resident, concerned about the impact of night-time flights, said: “My house [is so close to the flight path] you can shake hands with them.”

Second runway

Dublin Airport Authority

The company is now attempting to have two conditions attached to the original runway planning permission granted in 2007 removed.


Runway graphic

These limit the number of night-time flight movements, currently unrestricted, to just 65.

Their removal is considered necessary “due to the significant negative implications” they would have for the airport, DAA said in a “scoping document” ahead of a new environmental impact statement being produced.

DAA believes the expansion will improve Dublin’s reputation as a European gateway to North America and boost international routes.

Options on how this change to planning might be achieved – whether through An Bord Pleanála or through a statutory instrument outside of the planning process – are being explored.

As it stands there are about 100 aircraft movements every night between 11pm and 7am.

Demand for slots has “increased strongly” since planning permission was granted 10 years ago.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross – he told the Dáil he would “not allow a State monopoly to bully any group of residents” – met DAA officials to discuss the project last week.

The company has been holding public consultation events in recent weeks.

Many residents living near the airport are upset and angry at the decision to proceed with the runway, postponed in the aftermath of the economic collapse.

Other residents, though, are more positive.

Noise is a chief concern for those living in the vicinity. About 40 homes, falling within a “noise contour” map set by DAA, qualify for a voluntary purchase scheme.

Sound insulation

A further 90 houses will qualify for the provision of sound insulation.

Some residents, although generally resigned to the second runway, believe an independent body should be brought to adjudicate on noise concerns.

Myles Caulfield, secretary of River Valley Rathingle Residents Association, said: “The DAA have an agenda and with the best will in the world you can’t be judging your own conditions.”

However, others are not as worried. A former Dublin Airport worker, who asked not to be named, said his family used to live so close to the runway they would mow “welcome home” on their lawn.

“The noise didn’t bother us then. If people bought houses in the area in the last 20 years they will have to put up with it.”