Department rejects FCC has ‘conflict’ checking Dublin Airport noise

by Sylvia Pownall

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Department of Transport has rejected claims that Fingal County Council has a conflict of interest in being appointed as noise regulator at Dublin Airport.

Senior department officials told the Oireachtas Transport Committee they were confident the local authority could objectively carry out the duties required.

The new Airport Noise Regulation Bill will be enacted within weeks so Ireland will comply with new EU-wide noise management rules for major European airports.

As the EU regulation only applies to major EU national airports, it only applies to Dublin Airport.

Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy questioned whether FCC was “the appropriate competent authority” and if it has “the appropriate skills to deal with the complexities this will entail”.

Committee chairperson and Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd pointed out that the council earns income from rates at Dublin Airport and he questioned if the local authority’s independence could be compromised.

Senior Department of Transport official Ronan Gallagher said: “The minister has explained the rates revenue from Dublin Airport to Fingal is roughly around 15% of its total rates income, but if you take all of the income received from Fingal, it is about 8%.

“It is not an insignificant amount of income but at the same time it has lots of other sources of income, including property taxes from residents as well.

“We were very careful to examine this issue of conflicts. I wouldn’t want to characterise it that Fingal have full resources and full expertise.

“They are quite clear on the record that they are going to have to acquire some of that.”

In a statement Fingal County Council said it had expressed concerns about taking on the new role but had worked with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to address these.

It added: “Fingal County Council has a track record of performing the role of competent authority in areas such as planning and environment and does so in an independent and transparent way.”

Campaigners against plans to allow more night flights once the second runway is operational at Dublin Airport have expressed concern over the council’s role.

If the legislation passes it will grant FCC powers to apply to overturn planning conditions attached to the new runway which restrict night time flights.

FORUM (Fingal Organised Residents United Movement), which has more than 1,000 members, said: “If it [the Airport Noise Action Bill] passes through primary legislation it will be time for FORUM to ramp up its activities and start objecting on the streets.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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