THERE was a mixed reaction to the Government’s decision earlier this week to back plans for another runway at Dublin Airport.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet signed off on plans to support the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in beginning construction of a new 3.1km strip at a cost of €320 million.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wants to see work get under way within months, adding: “It is very important for our economy, tourism and business that we increase capacity at the airport.”
Fine Gael Senator James Reilly said it signalled a “bright future” for the transport hub, but he urged that restrictive planning conditions attached to the project be lifted.
The DAA also wants the condition limiting the number of night flights – which would see fewer landings and take-offs than at present – scrapped.
But Fingal Organised Residents United Movement (FORUM) expressed dismay at Tuesday’s decision by the Government.
On its Facebook page, the group posted: “As expected! Commercial and financial risk to be used as an argument to overturn the restrictive 2007 planning conditions and implement Reg 598/14 via primary legislation!”
Planning permission for ‘North Runway’ was granted in 2007 but the project was shelved due to the recession.
Last March, Fingal County Council granted a five-year extension to the original planning, extending it until August 2022.
Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed on Tuesday that it was the Government’s intention to appoint the local authority as the new independent airport noise regulator for Dublin Airport.
His Department stated: “Passenger growth at Dublin airport has rebounded incredibly strongly over the last number of years. As the economy has recovered and grown, the need for additional capacity is now clear and urgent.”
Fingal County Council issued a short statement saying that it “notes” the decision to appoint it as independent noise regulator.
It added: “The council now awaits publication by the Government of the draft Bill which will set out precisely how the new regulation will operate in accordance with Regulation 598/2014.
“In the meantime, the necessary resources will be put in place to deliver a robust and independent regulatory system.”
Senator Reilly called for clarity on planning conditions and warned if they are not amended the airport will be restricted to 27 million passengers a year – 3 million fewer than in 2017 – resulting in job losses.
He added: “This is a national asset for both business and employment in Fingal, and if legislation is required I am calling for it to be fast-tracked and prioritised as a matter of urgency.”
Residents of neighbouring St Margaret’s lodged one of three challenges to the runway in the commercial court last year, but their bid to halt construction failed.
The first phase of work, which involved diverting the Naul Road and site clearance, started last December.