Belfast City residents’ concerns raised by CAA safety report

4.8.2010   (Belfast City Airport   Watch   – contact Dr Liz Fawcett)

Local residents say their concerns about aircraft safety in areas close to George
Best Belfast City Airport have been heightened by a Civil Aviation Authority safety

The report investigated an incident at Parkgate Drive in east Belfast two months
ago in which a man was hit by a roof tile and damage caused to two houses, after
tiles were blown off the roofs.

The resident in question, Don Melrose, said the damage appeared to have been
caused by an aircraft which flew over his house as the incident occurred.

The CAA’s report said its investigators could not determine what had caused the
damage, and that the plane had been flying at the correct height at the time,
according to data provided by the airport.

But Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW) Steering Group, said the report’s conclusions only increased residents’ concerns about safety.

"The CAA report does not rule out the possibility that the roof tiles were blown
off by a plane," she said, "nor does it advance any alternative theory as to the
cause of this incident.

"If the aircraft in question was flying at the correct height at the time, that’s
of considerable concern, because it suggests similar incidents could easily happen
in the Parkgate area again.

"This was the third such incident in the space of nine months in that particular
area which is very close to the runway, and we remain sceptical about the level
of risk to which residents in that area are being subjected as planes come in
to land.

"The airport’s own information, presented to residents’ groups at a recent meeting
of the Airport Forum, indicates that aircraft are flying at less than 300 feet
above the ground when they come over that area – it’s not surprising that many
people there are anxious that an even worse incident could happen."

Mr Melrose was among a group of residents, led by BCAW, which urged a specially-convened
meeting of Belfast City Council’s Town Planning Committee, to which all councillors
were invited, to oppose plans which would allow the airport to significantly increase
its operations [last night – Tuesday, 3rd August].

Dr Fawcett outlined to councillors the results of a survey of more than 400 individuals
in areas affected by aircraft noise, mostly in east and south Belfast. The survey
found that:

·         More than three-quarters (78%) of the respondents said that aircraft noise
affected their sleep

·         Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they often had to stop talking
when a plane flew over because they couldn’t be heard

·         Of the 157 respondents with children, nearly half (46%) said their children
weren’t getting enough sleep because of aircraft noise.

·         More than a third (34%) of those with children said their children found
aircraft noise frightening.

Dr Fawcett said the group was delighted with the reception it got from the councillors.

"A large number of councillors made the effort to attend the meeting, and they
listened most attentively and with great interest," she said.

"The Council is one of only three bodies being consulted by the Environment Minister,
prior to the decision he intends to make on his proposal to remove the airport’s
seats for sale or passenger limit – so the Council’s view is really crucial on
this issue.

"Our concern about the removal of the seats for sale cap is that the restriction
ensures that the airport operates a mix of small, medium and larger aircraft –
if that limit was taken away, there would be nothing to stop every plane being
one of the larger ones."

The residents also urged councillors to oppose the airport’s planned runway extension
which is to be the subject of a public inquiry.

"The Council’s views on the runway extension will carry considerable weight at
the forthcoming public inquiry," explained Dr Fawcett.

"We pointed out to councillors that aircraft noise linked to the City Airport
actually affects almost 38,000 residents within the Council’s area.

"We hope very much that the Council will support those residents by doing all
it can to ensure that aircraft noise doesn’t get any worse."



Editor’s notes:

1.             Belfast City AirportWatch comprises fifteen residents’ and community-based
groups across affected areas within east and south Belfast, and north Down. For
more information on the campaign, visit:



see also

More news and information on Belfast City Airport


see also


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Committee, to which all councillors were invited, to oppose plans which would
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roof tiles were dislodged from houses, apparently by aircraft, in the Parkgate
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Drive at approximately 10pm on Tuesday, 8th June. The CAA says it will specifically
examine whether or not the aircraft in question was flying too low. The residents
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Around 20 tiles were dislodged, though luckily none fell. The resident of the
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