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There have been significant changes in the airline industry over the last ten years. Low cost airlines have revolutionised how and why people travel by air. People want a wider choice of destinations to choose from, and to travel more frequently. Also, our modern economy requires global links to sustain and encourage economic growth. In 1994 Dublin Airport handled 6.98 million passengers with some 130,000 aircraft movements. Since then, passenger numbers have grown steadily at an average of 1 million per year. In 2007 more than23.2 million passengers used the airport with 211,804 aircraft movements.
The real measure of airport capacity are the number of aircraft movements available in total and at peak times. Although aircraft are getting larger and can accommodate more passengers per flight, the number of aircraft movements is limited on our current runway system.
The timeframe for the second runway is based on the time we will extract the maximum capacity of our current runway system. The existing runway system at Dublin Airport comprises three runways, the longest being runway 10/28, then runway 16/34 and a short runway 11/29. Every effort is being made to ensure that the current runway system is utilised to the full, and this work involves the airport company (as the provider of the runways), Irish Aviation Authority - Air Traffic Control (as the managers of the runways) and airlines (as the users).
The capacity of the existing runway system has been analysed by experts working for the UK National Air Traffic Services, and a programme of measures is being implemented to ensure that management of procedures and processes at Dublin Airport’s runway system is in line with international 'best practice'. The existing short runway, 11/29, has recently been resurfaced to enable its use by small aircraft, and is capable of adding some additional capacity. These measures should satisfy demand until around the year 2012, when demand will exceed capacity. At this point, a new runway will be required, or future growth at the airport will be constrained.
Other options including Baldonnel, Gormanstown, other Irish airports and a new greenfield site were all considered as part of the planning process. There were a number of reasons why they were not suitable such as high population density, access, cost and timescale The Dublin Airport Authority secured the land needed for the runway back in the 1960’s and this good planning has meant that the surrounding area has been kept relatively free of high-density residential areas, thereby minimising the impact on residents. The parallel runway has also been in the Fingal county development plan for 30 years.
A study of the economic impact of Dublin Airport was carried out by York Consulting and submitted as part of the Environmental Impact Statement, which accompanied the runway planning application. The study demonstrates that Dublin Airport currently exerts a significant impact on the local, regional and national economies.
The development and use of the runway will result in increased aircraft traffic. Whilst some areas may be affected by increased noise levels, other areas may experience a reduction in noise levels. Detailed noise assessments were carried out using computer modelling and these were detailed in the Environmental Impact Statement accompanying the planning application. We will also continue to work with airlines and air traffic control providers to mitigate the impact of noise through improved operating procedures.
The Dublin Airport Authority(DAA) understands the strong emotions and concerns of residents and acknowledges the challenge in getting the balance right in providing essential airport facilities while at the same time ensuring minimal impact on the surrounding communities. In this regard the DAA proposed a number of community mitigation measures in the planning application and subsequent EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) submission.
The DAA has committed to the following measures based on best practice and on what similar airports overseas have done:
There will be very little changes made to the existing road network system. Road changes planned include the realignment of the Forrest Road, within existing airport lands, and the closure of the Huntstown to Forrest Little road (previously the R108 which now runs via the St. Margarets Bypass) immediately north of Huntstown. This will require a new road to link Huntstown to the St. Margarets Bypass, running south of the new runway and, again, on airport owned lands.
The future well being of Dublin Airport depends on the provision of effective and convenient modes of surface access. The Fingal County Strategy to 2011 supports provision of both rail and metro links to deliver "a modern, integrated and accessible transportation system" for the region. The airport currently has a wide network of bus and coach services to a range of national and local destinations. Dublin Airport continues to provide enhanced infrastructure on site for these services and to explore all options for network improvements to complement future rail links.
Fingal County Council and the National Roads Authority are currently carrying out a programme of road improvements in the vicinity of the airport, necessary for improved access and particularly for public transport. Dublin Airport continues to develop a high quality road network on site to ensure rapid unhindered access to the various facilities. Finally, in tandem with these measures, Dublin Airport is actively encouraging employees and users of the airport to switch to the various modes of public transport servicing the airport, when possible, in order to lessen dependency on the use of private cars and to reduce congestion.
A new drainage system will be provided to serve the runway, with surface water discharging, via large attenuation tanks, to the existing watercourses outside the airport at a safe rate.
As part of the environmental assessment existing water quality will be examined. Recommendations will be made as to the appropriate level of management required for surface water drainage from the proposed new runway. The aim will be to mitigate any potential adverse impact from the drainage so that the water quality in the receiving watercourse would be comparable to that at present. The surface water will be attenuated on site and the rate of discharge will be limited to existing site run-off rates to prevent any impact on downstream water levels.
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