First anniversary of North Runway today – local residents still aggrieved that planning breaches remain unresolved

by Rose Barrett
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One year on after the North Runway was opened at Dublin Airport and hailed as a major economic boost for the airport and its reputation as an international destination, North Dublin and East Meath residents are furious that the deviation of flights and night flights has not been resolved.

Forum – Fingal Organised Residents United Movement – was formed as an umbrella group to represent local community groups, residents, schools and other interested parties impacted by flight paths from the North Runway.

In a searing statement today, Forum said: “It has been one year since the North Runway at Dublin Airport opened for use. One year since many communities in Fingal and East Meath lost their peaceful environment. One year of noise, stress and worry for many people who are still trying to understand why.”

Issues arose when residents found themselves awakened at night with planes flying low overhead – and on flight paths not previously disclosed by the daa. The Dublin Gazette spoke with several residents who spoke of their homes vibrating under the low planes, of schools and families who could not speak or hear as planes passed overhead.

And members of Forum stick rigidly to their argument over the past year: “Why are planes from Dublin Airport following flight paths that were not included in the original planning permission for the North Runway? Why are the strict conditions enforced by the state planning body An Bord Pleanala around the number of night-time flights at Dublin Airport not being adhered to?”

Numerous meetings have been called in recent months, and thousands of noise complaints made to the daa between August 25 2022 and 23 February 2023.

“Why has the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority (ANCA) not offered residents affected by noise any mechanism to complain?” asked Forum.

A spokesperson for Forum further slated Fingal County Council for taking so long to conclude their investigations into “unauthorised development at Dublin Airport” and also queried why Minister for State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell, sought to remove a motion from the Fingal Development Plan, one which protects the health of Fingal residents from the damaging effect of noise at night.

Cllr Ann Graves has continuously supported Fingal and other residents in their efforts to address the additional flights, along with the health impacts and intrusion into family life.  Over the past year, there have been repeated attacks on the daa for ‘flouting’ the planning permission given in 2007 to Dublin Airport which is still the current relevant permission and conditions.

On August 8 last, the daa (Dublin Airport Authority) welcomed a High Court decision which paused an order by Fingal County Council demanding less night flights from September next, pending 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’, stating the council could go to court on 48 hours’ notice to airport authority, and seek to have the stay removed amended.

CEO of the daa, Kenny Jacobs acknowledged the High Court’s decision would not solve the long term issues. But that Dublin Airport was a busy international service provider and “balancing the needs of a major international airport like Dublin with the needs of local resident and communities iis always a delicate matter – and one the daa takes very seriously.”

Cllr Graves (above) welcomed FCC’s serving the enforcement notice with relation to the daa’s breach of Condition 5 of the 2007 planning permission for the north runway which allows a maximum of 65 flights per night.

“I have raised the daa’s breach many times through motions and questions at our local area and council meetings, as indeed have my fellow elected councillors.

“The only planning permission the daa presently has for the north runway was granted in 2007 by An Bord Pleanála (APB). The daa is a semi-state body; who do they think they are to be breaking the law – they are not above the law!”

Cllr Graves stated she “it beggars belief” that the daa was ‘surprised’ by FCC serving an enforcement notice. “Do they not know their own planning permission?”

A key element is the limit of 65 flights applied at Dublin Airport to protect the residential amenity and health of surrounding communities, added Cllr Graves.

“The 65-flight limit was an increase which was applied by APB, as a compromise to allow future growth at Dublin Airport while recognising the need to protect residential amenity and health. They’v have had 16 years to comply but chose to ignore it! The blame lies entirely with the daa who rather than deal with their own planning conditions sought a judicial review on one of the landmark planning cases to come before FCC.”

Cllr Graves called on Fingal to defend the order robustly, and to seek that the stay is removed within the allocated appeal time. She further noted that by December next, the daa will have reached its 32m passenger limit. “Will it be surprised by this as well?”

While Michael O’Leary welcomed the High Court’s decision earlier this month, Cllr Graves stated he originally opposed the North Runway and the tunnel to connect the two runways.

“The Sinn Féin group are calling on FCC now to challenge the stay that has been put on the enforcement order in the High Court by Mr Justice Conor Dignam and for the CE to defend the order robustly, and to seek that the stay is removed within the allocated appeal time.”

Forum concluded: “We are not trying to close the airport, we simply want an airport to be held to the planning and development laws that apply to all. Dublin Airport cannot simply be allowed to grow its business without any regard for the safety and health of nearby residents and communities.”

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