Like other European cities, Ireland’s Dublin is in a funk about airport noise, with one of its local authorities now issuing a threat of enforcement action to make the airport respect rules about noise and night flights.
Dublin Airport received planning permission seven years ago from Fingal County Council (in charge of northern Dublin) to add a third, north runway, on the condition that the airport authority (DAA) respect a cap on night flights. The restriction has been in place since an impact assessment back in 2007, limiting the number of flights between the times of 23:00 and 07:00 to 65.
But instead, since the opening of the new runway in August 2022, night flights have in fact increased by 7% – which adds up to an astonishing 1,964 additional “night movements” according to a report by the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority.
2. Noise abatement achieved?
Despite the colossal amount of night-time flights, the numbers of people categorised as “highly annoyed” and “highly sleep disturbed” (HSD) have fallen by 68,383 (59%) and 25,707 (55%) respectively. In addition, noise abatement objectives (NAO) were achieved in 2022 “except for one point, namely reducing those exposed to aircraft noise above 55 dB Lnight and 65 dB” according to Simple Flying.
3. Sad indictment
These figures on disturbances allow the DAA to argue that Fingal’s cap on night flights is inappropriate. The DAA’s CEO, Kenny Jacobs, hit back at the county in a statement on August 2:
“Fingal County Council’s decision would be bad for the Irish consumer, bad for the Irish economy, bad for Ireland’s connectivity with the world and bad for the effective operation of Dublin Airport. Despite bringing a piece of national strategic infrastructure into operation on time and on budget, and in full alignment with the State’s National Aviation Policy, this enforcement action would result in Dublin Airport having fewer aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am on two runways than it had on one. It is a sad indictment of the Irish planning system that this issue has been ongoing for the past seven years, since before construction work on North Runway began.”
Budget Irish carrier Ryanair has agreed with the DAA, using typically strong language to brand the council enforcement action “idiotic” and “stupid”.
It called on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to either intervene to “protect customers and flights at Ireland’s national airport” or step down. However the matter is not the Ministry’s remit.
Responding, Sabrina Joyce Kemper from the Fingal Organised Residents United Movement told BBC News NI that the impact on locals had become “exponentially worse” in recent months, affecting thousands of residents including school-aged children. She added that hundreds of residents have attended the campaign meetings where health concerns about sleep patterns have been raised.
Research has found that people, especially men over the age of 65, living near airports can be at increased risk of cardiovascular problems.