THE Dublin Airport Authority has claimed that its proposed second terminal at Dublin Airport is arguably “the most important public building in a generation.”
An oral hearing by An Bord Pleanála into the controversial new terminal — which will be known as T2 — heard yesterday that it will cater for 15 million passengers per annum, bring Dublin Airport’s capacity up to 35 million passengers per year.
Planning permission for the 92,000m² facility was granted by Fingal County Council last October.
However, the decision has been opposed by a number of objectors including local residents groups, An Taisce and Ryanair, which has conducted a high-profile PR campaign against the cost and location of the new terminal.
The DAA claims T2 — which is due to open in 2009 — will cost €610m including a new pier, roads and associated facilities. However, Ryanair maintains that the final total will be in excess of €800m.
An Bord Pleanála inspector, Öznur Yücel-Finn, was told by DAA witnesses that the new three-storey terminal would provide 56 additional check-in desks and 19 extra airbridges.
DAA director of capital programming, Mark Foley, justified the need for T2 on the basis that Dublin was Ireland’s national airport and one of the 10 busiest airports within the EU.
Mr Foley said Dublin Airport was not comparable with Hahn, Beauvais or Luton — airports which Ryanair insist have built suitable terminals at a fraction of the cost of T2.
He told the hearing that Dublin Airport had suffered from under-investment and congestion over the past decade due to exceptional passenger growth which had seen numbers increase from seven million in 1995 to over 21 million last year.
Andrew Evans, an airport design consultant working on behalf of DAA, said a number of alternatives for the expansion of Dublin Airport had been examined before the DAA had decided on building T2 to the east of the existing terminal.
He told the hearing that the DAA had ruled out an increased use of other airports outside Dublin as a study had shown that Dublin Airport was the most convenient facility for 80% of passengers using it.
Baldonnell Airport to the south-west of Dublin was not considered a suitable alternative as it would provide no obvious environmental benefits, said Mr Evans.
He pointed out that Baldonnell, which is used as a military airfield, is also located nearer to densely populated areas than Dublin Airport.
The options of relocating Dublin Airport to a new site was also discounted for economic and environmental reasons, said Mr Evans.
Another engineering consultant, Colm Moran, said the exact location of T2 within Dublin Airport had been chosen after the DAA had carried out a study to evaluate the relative merits of four possible sites.
He claimed the planned location for T2 was the “fastest and least risky” option.
During preliminary exchanges, a number of objectors argued that An Bord Pleanála was not entitled under planning legislation to conduct the current hearing because it was part of a split project by the DAA.
Opponents claim planning permission for T2 should not be treated separately from the DAA’s plans to build a second runway at Dublin Airport.