Air wars over Dublin Airport

'We want our lives back' say local residents caught in 'noise corridors'

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Despite the torrential downpour last Monday night, up to 300 people turned out to protest against the daa continuing to operate flights from Dublin Airport outside the relevant 2007 planning permission, claiming their lives have been badly impacted in these noise corridors by sleep deprivation and low flying planes only 1,000-2,000 ft above.

The protest was staged outside the Fingal County Council offices to also demand that the council be more strenuous in enforcing planning regulations.

Georgina Gaughan, a member of FORUM (Fingal Organised Residents United Movement) stated many children joined the protest, as did families of all ages, as they are incensed “to be living through the hellish noise and interruption since the opening of the North Runway last year.”

“Other have flights flying over their homes at tortuously low heights, which cause the house to vibrate. You can’t even hear each other at home.  On rural roads across Fingal, parents are fearful to allow children out on scooters and bicycles as they just wouldn’t hear approaching cars as the planes fly overhead.

“It’s a plane every two minutes – the noise is constant, one plane passes over, you can hear the next approaching, it’s like a stereo humming through your brain all day. It is impacting our wellbeing and mental health”

In August, the High Court paused an enforcement order by FCC demanding less night flights and to adhere to the relevant planning permission. An Bord Pleanála will have a full hearing on November 14 when the daa will challenge FCC’s enforcement notice. The High Court gave leave to FCC to object to the ‘pause’, but FCC stated they are still examining all the relevant documentation and files.

Protestors spoke of their anger that FCC have not stood up to the daa, as displayed on placards on Monday night.

Following the High Court’s decision, Daa CEO Kenny Jacobs stated Dublin Airport was a busy international service provider and “balancing the needs of a major international airport like Dublin with the needs of local residents and communities is always a delicate matter – and one the daa takes very seriously.”

Dublin Airport contributes a total of €9.6bn in gross value added (GVA) to the Irish economy and supports or facilitates 116,100 jobs in ROI, according to a recent study by InterVistas. In addition, a further 13,300 jobs can be linked back to the airport through employees spending in the economy, while the airport helps sustain 71,200 more jobs through its facilitation of tourism, trade, investment and productivity.

Twenty seven pc of the employment generated by the airport is in Fingal, with a further 21pc in the rest of Dublin and 22pc in Leinster. In fact, 29pc of the airport’s total GVA is located in Fingal, 24pc in the rest of Dublin and 20pc in the rest of Leinster.

Deputies Louise O’Reilly (SF) and Duncan Smith (Lab) attended the protest, as did Cllrs Adrian Henchy (Mayor of Fingal), Cathal Boland (Dep Mayor), Ann Graves, Ian Carey, Tom Murphy, Dean Mulligan, Joe Newman, Paul Mulville, Darragh Butler among others.

Cllr Boland addressed Monday’s protestors and stated: “If the daa can breach the planning process and get away with it, then anyone can erect a chalet in their back garden – that would soon sort our housing crisis!”

“TDs and councillors spoke with emotion, they know the predicament we face on a daily basis,” said Georgina. “Liam O’ Grady, representing FORUM presented a letter to Mayor Henchy on behalf of the gathering and agreed to distribute to it to all 40 Fingal councillors. FCC must stand up to the daa and enforce the planning permission.

While protestors tolerated the heavy rain, inside there was heated debate within the council chamber in Swords. Cllr Graves (SF) had a motion submitted and passed which addressed another issue in relation to the daa and interference with the planning process.

The motion read: “That this Council writes to the Taoiseach and Ministers responsible for Transport and Local Government, to outline the grave concerns in relation to the content of the letter from the Chair of the daa, Basil Geoghegan, dated August 14, 2023 and sent to the Taoiseach in respect of An Bord Pleanála’s decision regarding the North Runway at Dublin Airport. The attempt by the Chair of the daa, a semi-state company, to have the Taoiseach intervene in a planning process is a blatant attempt to undermine the independence of An Bord Pleanála and that of this council, who have issued an enforcement order to daa in relation to their breaches of planning conditions for the North runway, which the daa have chosen to ignore.

“…This attempt to stymie the planning processes needs to be urgently addressed,” the motion read.

“One 77-year-old resident attended Monday’s protest, his first ever but he, like so many homeowners across Fingal and East Meath attended because they are so disillusioned with the system. There were people from Portmarnock to Ratoath who are stressed out from 7am-11pm with the divergent flights from the North Runway. We want sleep, but we want justice too! Surely, planning laws mean something – we just want the system to support us, is that too much to ask?” concluded Georgina


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