Residents in the flight path of Dublin Airport are gearing up for a planning battle over night flights after Fingal County Council was appointed noise regulator.
A key decision on take-offs and landings between 11pm and 7am now lies in the hands of the local authority following the decision which passed through the Dail last week.
A dispute over planning conditions attached to the new 3.1km North Runway, which will restrict night flights, is expected to come to a head in coming months.
Work on the €320 million air strip has already begun and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has stated its intention to try and have the flight restrictions lifted.
Fingal Organised Residents United Movement (FORUM) said: “We are waiting to see when the DAA apply to overturn the 2007 restrictions.
“Then we need to mobilise a vigorous opposition to their planning application.”
The DAA has argued that the planning conditions, which it says are more restrictive than the regime currently in place at the airport, will restrict growth and cost jobs.
But residents living in the flight path – which includes Swords, Portmarnock and St Margaret’s – warn their quality of life will be ruined if flight limits are lifted.
FORUM members are ready to lodge submissions against any application by the DAA to apply to Fingal County Council to overturn the 2007 planning conditions.
It stated: “We will need everyone to make a concerted effort … Ultimately it will be An Bord Pleanala who decide if the 2007 conditions are removed so it will be up to us to fight this vigorously.”
After its appointment last week, the local authority stated that it will “now proceed to establish the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority”.
Interim Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly said: “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.”
Labour Deputy Brendan Ryan, a vocal opponent of the move, said he was “disappointed” that the council had been given these powers by the Government.
He warned that given the fact that the airport is one of the most significant commercial ratepayers in Fingal there were “genuine concerns” over its impartiality.