Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought a judicial review of Fingal County Council’s decision to extend planning permission for the development of a €320 million runway at Dublin Airport.
The environmental group alleges that the council’s Chief Executive was fully aware that the extra runway would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions before granting the five-year extension.
According to the group, this runs in contravention of the objectives of the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act.
The group’s affidavit states that the Chief Executive failed to take account of various climate and emissions related criteria as legally obliged under the 2015 Climate Act before deciding to grant the extension.
The extension was granted by Fingal County Council in March. The original permission for the proposed 3.1km runway, granted in 2007, was due to expire this August.
The project, set to be located less than 2km north of the Airport’s existing main runway, was put on hold during the recession.
Direct emissions from the aviation industry account for about 2 per cent of global emissions, and are projected to be around 70 per cent higher in 2020 compared to 2005 levels.
According to the European Commission, a flight from London to New York and back generates the same emissions as the average EU citizen does from heating their home for a year.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates that by 2050 aviation emissions will have increased by 300% compared to today.
According to an affidavit provided by FIE Director Tony Lowes, the Fingal Chief Executive made a number of “entirely general observations” in relation to the findings of the ICAO in its decision.
The FIE’s challenge also points to the recent refusal of planning permission for a third runway at Vienna Airport by the Austrian Federal Administrative Court due to air traffic’s climate change impact.
The group also argue that, as the original permission was granted based on an Environmental Impact Statement from 2002, the council has failed to consider new research on climate change over the past 15 years.
“The fact is that the international and national context in respect of climate change has moved on dramatically since the runway was first granted permission, which included a very limited assessment of climate impacts,” the affidavit states.
“Every citizen possesses constitutional and natural rights to bodily integrity, life, water, food, health and an environment consistent with their right to dignity and well-being. Climate change will directly and irrevocably impinge on each and all of those constitutional and natural right.”
Two separate groups of residents set to be affected by the construction of a third runway have also brought legal challenges.
One group, St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group, allege that the development is illegal as the council failed to consider the impact of the development on their homes before granting the extension.
These cases are set to be heard in the Commercial Court in October following an application to the high court by the Dublin Airport Authority.
In 2016, 25 million passengers passed through Dublin Airport. Dublin is the fastest growing major airport in Europe, according to Airports Council international Europe, the trade association for European airport operators.
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.
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.
Willie Walsh keen to get 2nd Dublin runway, which has planning consent
Planning permission for a new east-west runway, 1.6 kilometres to the north and parallel to the existing main runway at Dublin airport was granted in 2007 and remains valid till 2017. However a new planning application may have to be lodged because the original permission contained 31 restrictive conditions including a requirement that no flights operate from the 2nd runway between 11pm and 7am. The airport’s busiest time is the hour between 6am and 7am so airlines say a ban before flights taking off then is “impractical.” The runway cost has been estimated at €300m. The likelihood of it being built is considered higher now after the IAG takeover of Aer Lingus which includes plans to use Dublin airport to feed traffic from Europe to North America. IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh wants the runway, saying (predictably) Dublin airport is currently at full capacity during peak hours, leading to “congestion and delays”. Mr Walsh says he was open to an agreement with Ryanair that would see it feed passengers to the Aer Lingus long-haul network, and an agreement could be reached by summer 2016. The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is re-examining its proposals for a second runway as passenger numbers have risen to more than 21 million in 2014 and it expects a rise of 15% this year.