Fingal County Development Plan: Emergency motion assures independent legal advice re HSE submission

by Rose Barrett
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Once again this week Dublin Airport, the daa and noise pollution impacting residents neighbouring the airport was at the core of yet another debate in Fingal County Council. 

This time, it was a HSE submission citing health and safety considerations should be retained within Fingal County Development Plan that was the central focus of debate within the council chamber.

AnnMarie Farrelly, FCC Chief Executive  presented a report to council members, re the Ministerial Direction on the current draft county plan. However, while the executive concurred with the daa’s submission on the plan, Cllr Ann Graves brought an emergency motion before Monday’s meeting calling on the Chief Executive to seek independent legal opinion on behalf of elected representatives.

She said this was because they had concerns over the omission of a summary of the HSE submission to the ministerial direction as part of the Chief Executive’s report, specifically advising whether an addendum is required to ensure a balanced report.

“The development plan had been agreed by councillors but a ministerial direction requested that certain points should be omitted with regards to Dublin Airport, in terms of noise, insulation on premises, etc,” said Cllr Ann Graves (SF).

“The county plan went out to public consultation months ago; 163 submissions in total were received regarding Dublin Airport, flight paths, etc – 161 from residents living around the airport. The other two were from the daa, which runs Dublin Airport, and the HSE which supported the councillors and residents regarding health and safety issues around noise, insulation, wellbeing, etc.

“The HSE is responsible for all public health services in the state, they have endorsed the motion agreed by Fingal elected members and the residents who also made submissions – and yet the HSE submission was not given equal consideration!  The HSE also rejected the Ministerial Direction and called for the retention of the text agreed by councillors to protect human health and wellbeing – but this wasn’t given weighted summarisation within the Executive’s Report?”

Cllr Graves stated the executive’s report is a very important step in finalising Fingal County Development Plan. “The CE summarised and reported on the submissions received and forwards then to the Office of Public Regulator (OPR). This report included the daa’s report – a commercial semi-state body – who is currently in breach of planning regulations – but neglected ‘oddly’ to give the HSE submission the same consideration?

“The daa have taken a judicial review against FCC re the development plan. An Bord Pleanála is currently reviewing the terms of planning permission/conditions from 2007 re the new North Runway, additional night flights, with the daa requesting additional time.”

Cllr Grave’s emergency motion was unanimously agreed from the floor, FCC must get independent legal advice on the HSE’s submission/health and safety concerns. Members felt strongly that all of this must be independently considered, before the Ministerial Direction is confirmed and health protection standards are incorporated into the Noise Abatement Strategy formulated by the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority (ANCA).

Cllr Tony Murphy (Ind for Balbriggan) stated: “I was happy the motion was passed and feel it is very important we allow the Minister to have a balanced view when making his decision regarding the Development Plan.

“Two senior submissions were made, one by the daa which concurred with the Fingal Executive’s report, as summarised at Monday’s meeting. However, the HSE submission which was in direct opposition with the Executive’s decision but concurred with the councillors, was not summarised but ‘bundled’ with the public’s position.

“The Minister must make his decision on balanced information; he must have sight of all documentation clearly received, and the HSE’s document in my opinion should have been summarised independently.”

A spokesman for the CE office said: “All submissions received during the consultation period for the draft Ministerial Direction were given equal consideration and regard. The Chief Executive’s Report includes a summary of the views expressed in submissions and observations received in relation to each of the Items included in the Draft Ministerial Direction, which includes submissions from the HSE and the daa.

“The Chief Executive’s report provides a coherent, comprehensive and comprehensible summary of these views, which were seen to address a number of key issues raised including the health impacts of aircraft noise, the need to protect human health and the interpreted applicability of national planning policy.

“In accordance with the requirements of the Planning and Development Act (as amended), the summaries provided focussed exclusively on the views expressed in the submissions.”

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