Government to approve review of €320m Dublin Airport runway

Plan could lead to drop in passenger numbers and ‘serious commercial risk’ for its future

Dublin Airport: DAA says the impact of the restrictions will mean there will be a one-third reduction in night flights in the airport, between 11pm and 7am. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Dublin Airport: DAA says the impact of the restrictions will mean there will be a one-third reduction in night flights in the airport, between 11pm and 7am. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Government will approve a review of strict noise abatement conditions for a planned new €320 million runway at Dublin Airport because it could lead to a fall in passenger numbers and a “serious commercial risk” for its future.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is bringing a memorandum to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting proposing primary legislation to replace existing laws on noise restrictions with less restrictive EU regulations dating from 2014.

At issue is the planning permission granted for the North Runway in 2007 and particularly its conditions relating to noise abatement.

The airport’s operator, DAA, has argued that the conditions will not only apply to the new 3.1km runway but to the other runway and to all existing facilities at the airport.

Night-flight reduction

The impact of the restrictions, DAA has argued, will mean there will be a one-third reduction in night flights in the airport, between 11pm and 7am. The reduction in flights (in order to comply with the noise abatement conditions) will affect the period between 6am and 7am, peak hour at the airport.

The most notable condition was a restriction on night flights to reduce noise disturbance for local residents

DAA has told the Department of Transport that if the north runway were to go ahead under the existing 2007 planning permission (it received a five-year extension for it last year), it would lead to a reduction in passenger numbers of 2.4 million year and by up to 3.5 million a year by 2025.

The Government has said it supported the new runway and the Minister has agreed there could be serious commercial risk if there was no change to the 2007 planning permission.

Controversial

The North Runway project has been discussed for almost two decades but it has been controversial. Fingal County Council imposed conditions in the planning permission to facilitate people living in the St Margaret’s and Ward areas of north Dublin, which were affected by airplane noise.

The most notable condition was a restriction on night flights to reduce noise disturbance for local residents.

Plans were put on ice during the recession when passenger numbers dropped dramatically. However, the number of passengers passing through the airport each year has recovered and the airport is now operating close to capacity.