There was an air of annoyance tinged with resignation among the few residents of St Margaret's in north Co Dublin who were willing yesterday to say anything about the proposed new runway at Dublin Airport.
Most want to keep their powder dry for Monday night’s residents meeting in the Parochial Hall. But some hint that it may be part of a tactical master plan – an unspoken acceptance that the runway is coming and therefore the only game in town is maximising the compensation.
Better to say nothing than possibly damage one’s case?
“Let’s say there’s a good reason for saying nothing,” said one woman, explaining her reticence, as she waited for her child outside the local primary school.
The proposed runway received planning permission from An Bord Pleanála some years ago, but the plans were mothballed during the recession. This week, however, the Dublin Airport Authority said it was going ahead with the €320 million development, feeling sufficiently confident of future growth in air traffic.
The new runway will run roughly east-west, in parallel with the existing main runway on the south side of the terminal buildings. The new runway will be on the north side of the terminals and project west towards St Margaret’s.
Townlands to be effected include Pickardstown, Millhead, Kilreesk and St Margaret’s.
About 40 households will be eligible for relocation grants as a number of homes will be made uninhabitable by the runway and the approach to it, particularly at the western end. Several are in Kilreesk Lane, a rural cul-de-sac on the edge of St Margaret’s village.
One woman living on the lane in a bungalow with a well-maintained garden is from the area and has been in her current home for 23 years. She didn’t want to give her name.
“We’ve heard absolutely nothing,” she said, although aware of developments following the Dublin Airport Authority announcement on Tuesday. “We don’t want to move. I don’t want to even think about it.”
Further up the lane, Donegal-man Manus Conaghan runs Milltech, a small business installing caballing for piped TV. He is more sanguine at the likelihood of having to move.
“I’m here so long, about 40 years,” he said. “I’d be happy to stay, but if I have to go, sure I have to go. That’s progress.”
Next door, Jim Scully farms about 70 acres from which he extracts good silage for his dairy cattle and small herd of calves. Yesterday, his brother John was feeding the cattle silage and lettuce, but paused to chat about the new runway.
“There’s no one here in favour of it,” he said as a helper trundled past with a vast tank of slurry for spreading to help stimulate the grass for August’s silage harvest. “Who would want to live under a runway?” he asked.
Breda Deegan, a little further up the lane, was also very reluctant to talk at the door of her bungalow, but said nonetheless: “None of us want it.”
She was told 10 years ago that if the runway went ahead, she would eventually have to leave her home, but right now, it was better not to talk about what might happen. Another resident said there was talk about dismantling the church in St Margaret’s and relocating it – which is not the case.
Behind the church is a pretty red and white cottage, the former home of a teacher at the school that used to stand next door.
“In the past six to eight months,” said the woman who lives there but was also anxious not to give her name, “the aircraft are taking off [from the existing main runway] from 5.45am, and the thought of another runway is intolerable.”
She has been living in the cottage for 25 years and for her, soundproofing could potentially make a big difference, having been inside homes in Newtown that were retrofitted some years back. “I was in one of those some time ago and it was fine with the noise,” she said.
Just then, an Emirates jet lumbered into the sky, slow and low and noisy, just above the Parochial Hall.