Traveller halting site gets approval from Fingal councillors

Coolquay village residents ‘very disappointed’ at decision to facilitate new DAA runway

A row over the location of a Traveller halting site in north Dublin is threatening to delay the construction of an urgently-needed new runway at Dublin airport.

 

Fingal county councillors have voted in favour of a controversial Traveller halting site, clearing the way for an urgently needed new runway at Dublin Airport.

A strong campaign was waged against the new halting site at Coolquay village in north county Dublin, which residents said will be on a flood plain.

They say they are “very disappointed and concerned” at the councillors’ decision and will now seek legal advice.

Coolquay residents who attended last night’s meeting told The Irish Times security guards had been deployed at the council’s offices in Swords for the meeting and a number of people were not able to enter the building.

The new halting site is needed by January to accommodate the extended McAleer family who currently live at a site lying in the exclusion zone of the planned new north runway.

The family has lived in a council-run halting site on the land, which is owned by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), for 30 years.

Fingal County Council, the McAleers’ landlord, has leased the site from the DAA since 1988, but the authority now needs it back. Construction of the new north runway is due to start in January.

Many ‘observations’

After some negotiation, the McAleers agreed to move 12km north to Coolquay and detailed plans for a new 10-bay site were drawn up. A vote on the plans was due to take place at the council’s June meeting but had to be postponed due to the volume of “observations” received on it.

Coolquay locals argued against it, saying the location was “highly unsuitable” for a halting site. They mounted a strong campaign, with posters displayed around the village, saying the field is a flood plain and calling on the council not to “flood our homes”.

Over 600 “observations” were submitted to the planning office from people in the area and across north Dublin and Co Meath. Coolquay has a population of about 100 people.

At last night’s meeting, council engineers presented revised plans for the site which now include just seven bays. The plans also include measures to raise the level of the site, to protect it against flooding from boundary streams and a tributary to the river Ward.

Flood plain

Residents lobbied councillors, saying the site is important to take overflow from these waterways in the event of heavy rains and have shown photographs of their homes and yards heavily flooded on a number of occasions in the past 15 years. They say the field, if covered over, will deprive them of their flood plain.

Among them was Alvean Finnegan who attended last night’s meeting.

“I am very disappointed and concerned at the vote.” She said while raising the site might go some way to address the flood risk for the families who will live there, it did not address neighbouring residents’ concerns.

Liam O’Gradaigh expressed his concern, adding, “We will have to get legal advice now to see where we go from here.”

A spokesman for Fingal County Council was not available.

A spokeswoman for the DAA said “a new runway is required” to meet the growing demand for flights. “ DAA is mandated by the Government under the National Aviation Policy to deliver a new runway.”