Friday 31 August 2007

Local objectors dismayed by Dublin airport decision

Objectors to Dublin airport's expansion plans have reacted with dismay to An Bord Pleanála's decision to give the go-ahead to a new terminal and runway.

Several residents groups in the north Dublin area objected to the Dublin Airport Authority plans on the grounds that more aircraft would mean greater levels of noise pollution and stress on the local infrastructure.

The Portmarnock Community Association (PCA) said the decision was not only bad for local residents, but also for Ireland's aviation strategy.

The PCA set up United Portmarnock Residents Opposing Another Runway (Uproar) three years ago to voice their opposition to the expansion plans. It picketed the oral hearings conducted by An Bord Pleanála last year.

Uproar urged the Government to develop a second airport for Dublin away from the existing one and recommended Baldonnel as one of the alternative options.

Uproar spokesman Brian Byrne, a former Dublin airport manager, said An Bord Pleanála had behaved "disgracefully" in making the decision.

"We're not surprised, but we are disappointed. We have pursued a campaign against the second runway in the context of the best interests of the people in our community in Portmarnock," he said.

"The new runway threatens the well-being of the community because of the noise, the pollution and other environmental consequences.

"The more macro point is that it is a bad planning decision. We are now making an unsustainable Dublin airport. It's too big. It will create a monster and turn an asset into a liability.

"It runs against Government policy of a proper national spatial strategy, decentralisation, rural development," he added. It also continued "the overloading of the eastern side of the country".

"This is going to have a much greater impact on other airports than any decision to take away the Heathrow slots at Shannon."

The St Margaret's Concerned Residents Group, whose members live near the site of the proposed new runway, said the decision would make it difficult for them to continue living there.

"There is a condition attached to the planning permission that our homes be insulated against the noise, but who is going to insulate our gardens and our outdoor amenities?" asked Sheila Morris, secretary of the group.

"We won't be able to use our gardens. It will ruin our quality of life," she said.

"We felt the environmental impact study carried out by the Dublin Airport Authority paid more attention to the flora and fauna in our local area than it did to us."

The group also opposed the airport expansion plans on the grounds that they would have a serious impact on traffic in the area.

Both groups were among seven objectors to the proposals which included Ryanair and An Taisce.

An Taisce objected on the basis of the impact of the expansion plans on air quality in the north Dublin area.

The Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Club, the Portmarnock Community School and St Helen's Senior National School also objected to the expansion plans proposed by the Dublin Airport Authority.

Mayor of Fingal Cllr Alan Farrell said the location of the new terminal close to the existing one was a "colossal" waste of money and it should have been situated away from the present terminal.

"It seems to me that the decision was taken on political rather than planning grounds. I'm not talking about the decision by An Bord Pleanála, it clearly ticked all their boxes, but the decision to give the second terminal the go-ahead in its present guise."

Ronan McGreevy

(c) Irish Times 29.08.07

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