Dublin: Planned new 2nd runway twist as IAA grounded on aircraft noise
Fresh complications are clouding the planned use of a new runway project at Dublin Airport after the Irish Government backtracked on proposals to put the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in charge of enforcing an EU aircraft noise regulation. New legal advice from the Attorney General’s office has meant that it “would not be consistent with the principles of good corporate governance of the IAA as a whole” to appoint the authority as the competent body to enforce the legislation, contained in regulation EU 598/14. The decision has left the Department of Transport scrabbling for an alternative to the IAA. The EU regulation was introduced to reduce the noise impact from aircraft arriving and departing at airports in the EU. Its implementation could have consequences for Dublin Airport, where passenger traffic is expected to hit about 30 million this year. The DAA, which controls Dublin and Cork airports, has almost finished site preparation work for the new runway, and a tender for the actual runway construction is expected to be awarded next year. The runway is due to be operational in 2021. Local residents and groups have mounted High Court legal challenges against the runway plans.
Dublin: New runway twist as IAA grounded on aircraft noise
By John Mulligan (Irish Independent)
October 16th 2017
Fresh complications are clouding the planned use of a new €320m runway project at Dublin Airport after the Government dramatically backtracked on proposals to put the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in charge of enforcing an EU aircraft noise regulation.
Transport Minister Shane Ross has confirmed that fresh legal advice from the Attorney General’s office has meant that it “would not be consistent with the principles of good corporate governance of the IAA as a whole” to appoint the authority as the competent body to enforce the legislation, contained in regulation EU 598/14.
The decision has left the Department of Transport scrabbling for an alternative to the IAA. An Bord Pleanála and the Department of the Environment are among the possible candidates.
Clare Daly TD claimed the inability of the Government to appoint the IAA as the competent body a year after it said it intended to do so, was a “catastrophic failure”.
The EU regulation was introduced to reduce the noise impact from aircraft arriving and departing at airports in the trading bloc.
Its implementation could have consequences for Dublin Airport, where passenger traffic is expected to hit about 30 million this year.
The DAA, which controls Dublin and Cork airports, has almost finished site preparation work for the new runway, and a tender for the actual runway construction is expected to be awarded next year. The runway is due to be operational in 2021. Local residents and groups have mounted High Court legal challenges against the runway plans.
Planning permission was granted for the 3.1km runway with two conditions attached by An Bord Pleanála that will hamper its operational effectiveness, and that of the airport.
The two conditions include one that would prohibit the new runway’s use between 11pm and 7am – a period that includes the airport’s extremely busy morning operations. The second condition would cap the number of total flights at the airport between 11pm and 7am at 65. The airport currently handles about 100 flights during that time.
The DAA has previously claimed that if the runway opened with the two conditions in place, Dublin Airport would immediately see its annual passenger numbers cut by three million. The DAA wants to have the two conditions attached to the runway project rescinded.
But the DAA can’t commence those efforts until a competent body has been named to oversee the EU noise regulations and necessary legislation has been enacted. All that, including an actual review of noise at Dublin Airport under the EU regulation, could take a year.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary warned during the summer that a delay by the Transport Minister in appointing a competent body to oversee the noise legislation could also hold up the opening of the new runway.
Mr Ross told Ms Daly that the noise regulation function was intended to be assigned to the regulatory division in the IAA, “and was to be managed on a functionally independent basis from the commercial activities of the IAA in the provision of air navigation services”.
He added: “On foot of the most recent legal advice of senior counsel engaged by the Office of the Attorney General, it is clear that this approach is no longer advisable.
“Case law at European level has now led to a more strict interpretation of what constitutes functional independence within an organisation.
“I have already instructed my department to re-engage with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, as a matter of urgency to consider the possible options for assignment of this role to an existing State body.”
2nd runway at Dublin airport threatens Heathrow’s position as main IAG hub
Heathrow may face more competition for hub traffic from Dublin, if there is a 2nd runway in 2020 – and airlines prefer using Dublin rather than Heathrow. This might mean Heathrow being partly sidelined. In May 2015 Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, was bought by IAG (International Airlines Group) – which owns British Airways. As part of IAG’s takeover there was the benefit of new routes and more long-haul flights from Dublin, where Aer Lingus is one of the two main airline customers, along with Ryanair. Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO, said in 2015 that owning Aer Lingus would allow IAG “to develop our network using Dublin as a hub between the UK, continental Europe and North America, generating additional financial value for our shareholders”. Willie Walsh believed that buying Aer Lingus was a wise move, as it was “inevitable” that Dublin would get a 2nd runway in the next few years. IAG believes that it can expand the group’s flights via Dublin or Madrid – especially if there is no new runway at Heathrow. It could have the impact of removing business from Heathrow – British Airways is the largest airline there with around 50% of the slots.
Dublin Airport may buy 40 homes, already badly affected by noise, in bid to step up 2nd runway plans
Dublin airport was given consent for a 2nd runway in 2007, but due to the recession it was not started. There are now plans to start work in 2017, for completion in 2020, though as much has changed in the years since 2007 on the aviation market, questions are asked about whether the original consent should still be valid. Due to the inevitably increased noise from the 2nd runway, it is likely that around 40 houses (mainly in the St Margaret’s area 2-3km from the airport) would be bought by the airport, and negotiations are planned. Triple glazed window insulation will probably also be suggested for hundreds of other properties including schools. A spokeswoman for the St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group said the affected 30 home owners in her association are devastated but have no choice. The airport has assessed the level of noise necessitating house purchase based on 90 days of the airport’s busiest months from June to September. Residents, some of whom have been in the area for three generations, fear that a 2nd runway, with increasing frequency, growth in long haul services and more larger aircraft Dublin would compound the noise problem. The 40 homes are those affected now. (There would be a whole lot more with a 2nd runway).
Work to build Dublin 2nd runway could start in 2017 for completion in 2020
Dublin airport is to press ahead with building a 2nd main runway, resurrecting plans that were approved in August 2007 but then put on hold when Ireland was plunged into financial crisis after 2008. The 2 mile runway will be cost about €320 million (£258m) with work starting in 2017. It may be ready by 2020, to meet rising demand. Passenger numbers at Dublin are now back up to where they were before the recession, and although the airport is not yet at full capacity, it is congested at peak hours. There were around 25 million passengers in 2015. Passenger numbers are expected to rise further. Dublin to London is one of the world’s busiest international air routes, while the facility to pre-clear US immigration in Ireland has made Dublin popular with transatlantic travellers. Ireland cut is small charge of €3 on air tickets in 2013, while Northern Ireland continued to charge £13 in APD. Many people therefore travelled from Northern Ireland to Dublin, to save money. Ryanair has over 40% of the flights at Dublin backs the runway, as does IAG. Willie Walsh has said he might consider using Dublin more if Heathrow got a 3rd runway, and raised charges sharply. There are some conditions restricting night flights very slightly, (65 per night 11pm to 7am) with the 2nd runway.