Saturday, 17 February 2007

Sligo airport's east extension would mean 'significant loss of species'

This follow up to a previous article by Maria Treacy in the Western People:

Trevor Hunter said that securing an additional 259 metres on the east side, and in doing so, enlarging the airport runway to 1,411 metres, would mean sacrificing three hectares of mudflats, along with "significant loss of species".
"Internationally, Strandhill is known for its habitat and wildlife. It actually has European protect, Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its mudflats and Special Protection Area (SPA) for bird conservation," he said.
Mr Hunter said that the area would be hit in a number of ways if the proposed east runway is given the go ahead.
This would include disturbance and displacement of the birds, loss of habitat, along with the increase risk of planes striking birds.
And he added that if the runway extension was given the green light, there would be no guarantee that it would not be extended even further in the future.
"In another five years, are we going to see the runway extended further and further towards Sligo?," he asked.
Mr Hunter added that he was not anti progress and highlighted that there was the option of looking at the western end of the runway.
"There is 200 metres of foreshore there which means extension is very feasible," he said.
Similarly, An Taisce's Nicholas Trent said that the expansion on the east side would be "a landscape and natural habitat problem".
"It's the only east facing channel in the whole of the Sligo coastline. It is unique and this runway will destroy it if you build over it," he said.
He added that while the SPA was "inconvenient", it was meant ot be.
"If they weren't inconvenient, there would be no point in having them. They are precisely there to make you think again and take in other options," he said.
Shellfish farmer, Noel Carter who may be forced to close his business, umbrella company Coney Island Shellfish, if the east extension goes ahead added that health and safety issues will also need to be addressed.
Currently, Mr Carter has right of way over the existing runway in order to get to and from his house.
However, there are proposals to put in place two security gates, which would only be opened by buzzer operated from the airport tower.
"I have to protect the right of the general population to walk there uninterrupted," he said.
"Myself and Joe Corcoran have a great relationship and we have always accommodate each other. But these will be two security gates, 1.8 metres in height with three rows of barb wire on top. It's going to be locked and I'll have the push a button to get home.
"If the airport increases the number of flights to 17 times a day, that's fair enough, but that also means the gates are going to be locked 17 times a day. And I can guarantee you that I will be severely reprimanded if I'm found on the runway one third of the way up."
Mr Carter added: "We have 200 homes looking down on top of us and say if each house has at least one child, then there will be 200 children coming down to play on the sand. Where are they going to go? Up on the runway? What are Health and Safety going to do? They have to demand the security fence remains closed around the platform."

No comments: