Wrong to exclude Dublin airport from attempt to change flight restrictions – Ross

Bill under consideration to accommodate EU rules on introduction of noise regulator

Minister for Transport Shane Ross agreed to consider making a noise insulation scheme on houses affected by the new runway  the responsibility of the new noise regulator. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Transport Shane Ross agreed to consider making a noise insulation scheme on houses affected by the new runway the responsibility of the new noise regulator. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

It would be wrong to prevent Dublin Airport from trying to overturn restrictions on night time flights following the introduction of a second runway, Transport Minister Shane Ross has said.

His comments follow concerns that forthcoming legislation on noise control - being introduced in line with European standards - would be used by Dublin Airport to overturn planning restrictions on aircraft traffic.

“It would be, I suppose, wrong to exclude them from applying [for a review]under it,” he told the Oireachtas Transport Committee which was debating amendments to the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill earlier this week.

“I am no great lover of the daa. . . but I don’t think it would be right to exclude them in any way.”

Dublin Airport management - or “daa” - is preparing for the construction of a second runway which will greatly enhance capacity.

However, existing An Bord Pleanála planning would limit average traffic to “65 movements” between 11pm and 7am.

The Bill under consideration by the Committee is to accommodate EU rules that a noise regulator must be introduced to oversee operations.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly, an advocate of residents’ concerns in the area around Dublin Airport, told Mr Ross she believed provisions in the Bill that would open the door for the daa to change those flight restrictions should be scrapped.

She said the process of securing the original restrictions more than 10 years ago was both costly and time consuming to residents.

“The restrictions that were put in were there to protect human health,” she said. “This is a real nightmare reality for people.”

Traffic increase

The Dublin North TD conceded that while there would be a reduction in night time flights once a second runway opened, overall traffic would increase.

Business travellers should be accommodated by early morning flights, she told the Minister, “but somebody going to Tenerife or Lanzarote doesn’t need to get up in the middle of the night [AND]disturb the residents in St Margaret’s in Portmarnock [near Dublin Airport]”.

“At the moment they [night time flight restrictions] cannot be changed. This law is being brought in - absolutely to bring in the noise regulation - but we know the daa have said they are going to use it to change the conditions.”

However, Mr Ross, who refused her request to drop the relevant parts of the Bill, said if the restrictions were to be reviewed it would require a full noise assessment in line with the new legislation and that would be subject to appeal.

He said pre-judgment was wrong and that it was “quite possible” a regulator might actually increase the level of restrictions.

In a separate amendment, Mr Ross agreed to consider making a noise insulation scheme on houses affected by the new runway - currently being managed by daa - the responsibility of the new noise regulator to help decide who would and would not qualify.

At a previous Committee meeting, members expressed concerns over a move by the Minister to appoint Fingal County Council as the noise authority given its close relationship with the airport.