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Approval granted for Waterford Airport's €12m runway extension

Business groups hope the extension will help attract commercial carriers for the airport.

A LONG-AWAITED RUNWAY extension for Waterford Airport has been approved by An Bord Pleanála.

It will allow a 900m runway extension and a widening of the runway, costing at least €12m, which campaigners and business groups hope will attract commercial carriers for the airport as it will allow it to take larger aircraft.

In An Bord Pleanála’s approval letter, which has been seen by this website, it said the proposal would have a negible impact on climate and sought a detailed traffic plan from Waterford City and County Council for the works.

The development will involve an extension of the existing 1,433 metre long runway by 491m at its northern end and 363m at its southern end, resulting in a total runway length of 2,287m.

It will also be widened by 30m in width to 45m.

Fine Gael senator John Cummins, who is a former member of the airport board, said it is a critical piece of infrastructure for the South East region.

“It makes the possibility of securing routes for the airport far more likely into the future than what was the case heretofore,” Cummins said. 

He added: “For too long the runway has been an impediment to the growth of the airport. The types of aircraft that were able to land at the runway were restricted, so the planning application that has been approved will facilicate the landing of the main aircrafts of choice for major airlines.”

Public and private funding 

The airport received a commitment of €5m capital funding for the extension from the Department of Transport in 2019, but this has been partly contingent on planning approval.

It was then costed at €12m in total, with the other monies for the runway extension at one stage to be provided by a local consortium of regional companies combined with local councils in Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny.

This fell into doubt last year, however it is understood that an investment plan is to be presented to board members and the council imminently.

The Department of Transport confirmed last year it was pulling annual emergency payments to the airport, adding to future fears for the company’s future.

It said at the time that the payments “cannot be continued” in light of the “radically changed outlook” caused by Covid-19.

It also raised doubts over a promised €5m funding for a runway extension granted in 2019, owing to the pandemic and a lack of commercial flights at the airport.

The emergency payments, totalling €1.5m over three years, were provided between 2018 to 2020.

On this, Cummins said he views the runway extension’s approval as being critical to restarting the Department of Transport’s emergency payments.

He said is aware that “management and the board have been working extensively on trying to secure the private investment required to ensure now that this project is realised”.

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