THE long-awaited second terminal and new runway for Dublin airport were last night cleared for take-off.
But the beleaguered €760m project faces the prospect of fresh delays after Ryanair confirmed it would take legal action to prevent the terminal being built.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is now facing a race against time to have the second terminal completed by a 2009 deadline.
In a decision which allows the airport to effectively double in size, An Bord Pleanala last night ruled that the DAA must abide by 61 planning conditions.
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary wants to see an independent second terminal which would effectively act as competition to the DAA's facility, while local residents and An Taisce may also mount a legal challenge against the project.
Confirming it would take High Court action, Ryanair described the terminal plan as a "gold-plated abusive waste" by a "monopoly".
DAA chief executive Declan Collier said work should commence in the coming weeks, and that congestion for passengers would be "eliminated" when the terminal opened in early 2010.
He said just one "commercial organisation" opposed plans for the terminal, and suggested its position was motivated by "narrow self-interest" rather than the interests of passengers.
Giving the green light to the two projects, the planning appeals board capped the number of passengers who can use the airport at 32 million per year, and restricted the number of aircraft landing per night to 65.
The second terminal, known as T2, will be 75,000 sqm and will cater for 15 million passengers a year.
The DAA was refused permission to build 17,000 sqm of extensions in the future, meaning that if it wants to increase capacity at the airport it must re-apply for planning permission.
Permission was refused for the extensions because the local road network could not cope with the increased traffic.
The planning permission, which lasts for five years, will allow construction of the new terminal building which will provide parking spaces for 19 aircraft, an upgrade of the road network in the airport and provision for a Metro North stop.
It will cost €395m to build, but associated works will lead to an eventual bill of €609m.
The new runway will be built 1.7km north of the existing runway.
It will expand the potential airfield capacity of Dublin to 50m passengers per year, but this would require a third terminal to be built.
The board found that the runway and new terminal complied with national and regional planning guidelines, was in the National Development Plan and the Government's Transport 21 programme.
"It is considered that the proposed development is necessary to meet the foreseeable need for aviation travel at Dublin airport and to provide for the safe expansion of air traffic at the airport," it said.
The inspector dealing with the runway application raised concerns about "deficiencies" in the planning application, but the board found there was sufficient information to grant approval.
It found there would be "no significant deterioration" in night-time noise, and in fact some improvements during the day for some residents.
The ruling caps the number of long-term car parking spaces at 26,800, and 4,000 short-term.