daa welcomes the judgement made by the High Court today which allows leave for daa to apply for a Judicial Review and also imposes a stay on Fingal County Council’s recent enforcement order issued in relation to planning conditions attached to the opening of North Runway. Alternative noise abatement proposals made by ANCA as the competent authority are currently under review by An Bord Pleanála.
Kenny Jacobs, daa CEO, the operator of Dublin Airport said:
“While today’s decision does not solve the underlying planning issues, it is a pragmatic decision while we focus on maintaining vital international air connectivity and protecting Irish jobs supported by Dublin Airport as a vital economic enabler for the country. Balancing the needs of a major international airport like Dublin, with the needs of local communities and residents is always a delicate matter, but one we take extremely seriously.
daa has been seeking the removal of two onerous planning conditions since 2007. The urgency attaching to planning and regulatory processes to consider those changes, having regard to an EU Directive, was relayed to and understood by regulators, planners and policy makers at the time but we have been frustrated by a complex and protracted Irish planning system.
daa is proposing to only use North Runway from 6am to midnight rather than 7am to 11pm as set out in the current planning conditions and introduce a noise quota count system rather than a flight movement number cap. These were set out in our Relevant Action submitted in 2021. Both Fingal County Council and ANCA themselves agree with us that this is a better approach as do our airline customers.
The conditions attached to the initial grant of planning for North Runway, granted over 16 years ago, reflected the situation at that time which is vastly different to current operations. Modern aircraft are dramatically quieter than 16 years ago for a start, and the Ryanair and Aer Lingus fleet include a large number of new planes which are 50% quieter. It is imperative now that this matter is brought to a speedy and successful conclusion in the national interest. The Relevant Action, if approved by An Bord Pleanála, will prevent any disruption to flights and balance the needs of the community with the need for connectivity. daa will continue to challenge this enforcement order and will work with all stakeholders to get a solution to avoid any disruption to flights,” Kenny Jacobs added.
Prior to any application to change the onerous conditions included in the planning permission, new legislation was required and a new competent authority needed to be nominated, established and resourced. Only after that point could a formal application process to Fingal County Council and the new Aircraft Noise Competent Authority (ANCA) commence, each involving sequential, time prescriptive consultation processes.
As a result, daa could not submit its application for changes to the onerous conditions until December 2020, some four and a half years after daa had hoped to do so. This process took at least two years longer than anyone had anticipated after the organisation, nominated by the then Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. in February 2016 as the Noise Competent Authority, was changed from the Irish Aviation Authority to Fingal County Council in February 2018.
In June 2022, ANCA, the new competent authority, a separate and independent directorate within Fingal County Council, published its decision regarding appropriate noise mitigations and operating conditions to apply at Dublin Airport. These were informed by best international practice and EU Directives designed to minimise noise impacts. This decision is now subject to appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
ANCA’s proposals in respect of night-time aircraft activity at Dublin Airport were two-fold. Firstly, to revoke Condition 5 (65 flight cap) and replace it with an Annual Noise Quota for the full night period (23:00 to 07:00). Secondly, that North Runway shall not be used for take-off or landing between 00:00 and 05:59 (from 23.00 to 07.00 previously).
As a result, by the time North Runway opened in August 2022, the competent authority had made its decision regarding appropriate noise mitigations and operating conditions that should prevail at Dublin Airport. As this decision is subject to appeal to An Bord Pleanala, this raises complex issues for Dublin Airport, its airline partners and a range of planning and aviation regulatory authorities.
North Runway Planning Timeline
1968 Provision for a parallel runway system has featured in Dublin Airport's plans since the 1960s, and lands preserved to realise the provision of a dual parallel runway system.
1989 The first part of Dublin Airport’s parallel runway plan was delivered on June 21, 1989 when the existing South Runway, R10/28 first opened for flight operations.
2004 A planning application for the new parallel North Runway was submitted in December 2004.
2007 daa was granted planning permission for North Runway subject to 31 planning conditions. Two of these conditions would severely reduce the future operational capacity of Dublin Airport at peak periods. Condition 3(d) stated that North Runway cannot be used for landings or take-offs between 11pm and 7am, whilst Condition 5 placed a 65 aircraft movement cap right across the airport, within the same 11pm to 7am period.
2008 The runway project was put on hold in December 2008 due to the economic downturn. The new runway was not needed as passenger numbers declined significantly due to the impact of the recession.
2016 daa, prior to commencement of North Runway, stated its intention in April 2016 to seek changes to the two restrictive planning conditions due to the significant negative impact they would have on passengers and on the potential of Dublin Airport to operate and grow.
2016 Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. announced plans to appoint the Irish Aviation Authority as the new Competent Authority in charge of noise management and operating restrictions at Dublin Airport.
2018 Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. announced plans to appoint Fingal County Council instead as the new Competent Authority in charge of noise management and operating restrictions at Dublin Airport after legal advice.
2019 Fingal County Council is designated as the Competent Authority for the purposes of aircraft noise regulation at Dublin Airport by the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Act 2019.
2020 daa submitted its application for changes to the onerous conditions to Fingal County Council on December 18, 2020. The application sought to amend and replace them with proposals that provide operational flexibility for growth, while ensuring the overall noise effects would not exceed those in 2018.
2021 daa proposed a Relevant Action to amend the operating restriction set out in condition number 3(d) and the replacement of the operating restriction in condition number 5 of the North Runway Planning Permission. It also proposes new noise mitigation measures.
2022 ANCA, the new competent authority, a separate and independent directorate within Fingal County Council, published its decision regarding appropriate noise mitigations and operating conditions to apply at Dublin Airport.
To revoke Condition 5 (65 cap) and replace it with an Annual Quota Count [QC] for the full night period (23:00 to 07:00). The QC will be 16,260 per annum based on April 1 to March 31, for Dublin and for Ireland as a whole.
That North Runway shall not be used for take-off or landing between 00:00 and 05:59 (from 23.00 to 07.00 previously)
2022 North Runway opens on time and on budget on August 24, 2022 with the successful delivery of the largest strategic infrastructure project in the country.
2022 North Dublin residents appealed Fingal County Council’s decision to ease restrictions on the operation of North Runway to An Bord Pleanála.
2023 daa was issued an enforcement order dated July 28, in the middle of the peak summer holiday season, despite the fact that Fingal County Council has already confirmed that having a cap on the number of night flights is no longer a fit-for-purpose way of determining how many flights should operate at night-time.