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DAA gets green light on amendments to new Dublin Airport runway despite pilot union's objections

Trade union IALPA made an appeal against the plans to An Bord Pleanála.
Mar 26th 2020, 12:01 PM 25,444 11

DAA HAS SECURED planning approval for amendments to its plans for a €320m new runway at Dublin Airport, despite objections from the representative body for airline pilots.

An Bord Pleanála has rejected an appeal by the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) against the decision of Fingal County Council to grant planning permission to the DAA for changes to the airport operator’s original plans for the new North Runway.

Preparatory work in advance of the main runway construction project of what DAA claims is vital infrastructure to cater for growing numbers using Dublin Airport began in 2017, while significant construction activity is ongoing on the site.

It is estimated the runway will allow Dublin Airport to achieve a 31% gain in connectivity by 2034.

DAA has described the proposed changes to the original plans as “minor physical amendments” which involved no operational changes.

They include minor changes in the location and width of permitted taxiways and the airside perimeter fence as well as new maintenance access roads, shelters for emergency vehicles and CCTV masts. 

The changes also provide for the creation of elevated landscaped areas up to four metres in height around the perimeter of the runway to improve reflected navigational signals.

DAA claimed the changes were necessary due to the establishment of a new authority for aviation standards, the European Aviation Safety Agency and revised regulations for runway and taxiway design as well as to coordinate with the location of navigational aids used by the Irish Aviation Authority.

It said they would result in an overall reduction in paved area of approximately 116,000m².

DAA noted the IAA, which was the competent authority for the approval of runway layout, had examined the proposed changes and had raised no objection.

It claimed the design for the new runway was specific to Dublin’s and IALPA’s comparisons with other airports was not appropriate.

It said the council had given inadequate consideration to design issues raised by the pilots’ group and undue weight to the IAA’s submission which it described as “flawed”.

IALPA claimed the original runway design would achieve operational efficiencies but the proposed design change was inferior and would not improve efficiency.

An Bord Pleanála rejected a request by IALPA for an oral hearing on the case.

Fingal County Council said it had considered all issues raised by IALPA. 

An inspector with An Bord Pleanála said that while the original runway design might achieve a higher standard of operational efficiency, an expert report submitted by IALPA had not identified any fundamental flaws with the proposed changes.

He said the question of operational efficiency was primarily one for the operators and regulators to determine.

Construction work on the new runway is to be completed in early 2021 which will be followed by nine months of commissioning and testing before it becomes operational.

The North Runway will be 3.1km long and is located almost 1.7km north of the existing main runway.

It is being built in a joint venture between Limerick construction firm Roadbridge and Spanish infrastructure group, FCC Construcción. 

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Seán McCárthaigh

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