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The planning decision was initially appealed by Ryanair and a north Dublin-based residents group
Dublin Airport

An Bord Pleanála gives green light to €200m tunnel for Dublin airport despite locals' opposition

The appeals board concluded that the proposal would not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on the amenities of the surrounding area.

AN BORD PLEANÁLA  has granted planning permission to the operator of Dublin airport for a new €200 million tunnel for the airport.

The appeals board has granted planning permission for the tunnel under the airport’s ‘Crosswind’ runway after concluding that the proposal would not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on the amenities of the surrounding area or on traffic safety.

The decision upholds a grant of permission by Fingal Co Council in February of last year and that decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by Dublin airport’s biggest customer, Ryanair and north Dublin based residents group, SMTW Environmental DAC.

daa appealed against five ‘unreasonable and overly onerous’ conditions attached to the planning permission and in its ruling. An Bord Pleanála has upheld daa’s grounds of appeal in each case.

The planned twin cell enclosed subterranean tunnel is 700 metres long with the overall alignment being 1.1km in length from ‘ramp to ramp’.

A statement by daa on Wednesday stated that it welcomed the appeals board decision to grant planning permission for the construction of a vehicle underpass in the middle of the airfield to connect the Eastern Campus with the West Apron.

A daa spokesman said: “The tunnel is required to improve access and safety on the airfield, allowing for the segregation of aircraft and vehicles, and the movement of vehicles to the West Apron, which has been restricted since the opening of the North Runway in August, 2022.”

He said: “Access to the West Apron is critically important to cargo operations, transit operations, general aviation, stand-by parking and contingency stands.”

The spokesman pointed out that the underpass “will be critical to ensure Dublin Airport maintains safety standards and meets future operational requirements”.

The project will create over 160 jobs during the construction phase.

As part of the 131 page report by appeals board inspector, Mary MacMahon stated the proposed underpass “is a standalone, critical piece of infrastructure”.

Ms MacMahon stated that the proposed development is analogous to the mains drainage system for Dublin, where housing development would be limited without an appropriate drainage system being in place.

However, the project may yet face a fresh hurdle as there is now an eight-week period for objectors to bring a Judicial Review of the grant of permission from An Bord Pleanála.

Construction on the project is estimated to take about three years in total, with site mobilisation taking three months, the cut-and-fill operation about 18 months, with testing and handover a further nine months.

In the Ryanair appeal by planning consultant, Ray Ryan of BMA Planning stated that “Ryanair believes that the underpass project is unnecessary because vehicular access between the eastern and western aprons of the airport is possible to achieve at surface level”.

The appeal claimed that the exceptional need related to cross-wind conditions affects only 0.5% of annual aircraft movements.

The appeal stated “this means that there will be no impediment to vehicular crossings save in exceptional circumstances”.

The appeal contended that “the business case for the spending of over €200 million on this project has not been made”.