Fingal County Council told not to ‘stray’ into aviation safety issues by DAA consultants

Coakley O’Neill Town Planning points out council lacks ‘regulatory role or technical experience’ in appeal over airport tunnel plan

Consultants acting for DAA, the State-owned operator of Dublin Airport, have told Fingal County Council that it should not “stray” into matters of “aviation safety”, where it has “no regulatory role or technical experience”.

Coakley O’Neill Town Planning made this point in the course of an appeal against conditions attached to the council’s green light for DAA’s €200 million tunnel plan for the airport.

DAA is appealing to An Bord Pleanála against five conditions attached by the council to the permission for the “critical airfield operational safety project” that involves the construction of an underpass under cross-wind runway 16/34.

In the appeal, Coakley O’Neill Town Planning states it was concerned about two conditions that “inappropriately assign regulatory responsibility in matters of aviation safety and security to the planning authority and should be removed from the final grant of permission as a matter of priority”.


The Cork-based planning consultancy contends that “a planning authority is not equipped with the resources or technical knowledge to approve specific safety aspects of the airport”.

“Inappropriately assigning this responsibility to a planning authority would result in unnecessary risk in the event of an incident.”

The consultants state that, in taking this appeal, DAA hopes to set a positive planning precedent to which Fingal County Council will have regard in future assessments of planning applications relating to the airfield at Dublin Airport.

“This issue has arisen consistently in the recent past and a clear determination is now required to provide clarity to all parties concerned,” they state.

The consultants said that “while well-intentioned, it was not appropriate for a planning authority with no regulatory role or technical experience in aviation safety, to stray into this highly regulated area”.

The DAA appeal is also seeking a reduction in financial planning contributions by €270,890 from €370,472 to €99,582.

In its third-party appeal, the airport’s largest customer, Ryanair, claims that if the project was allowed to proceed “it will contribute towards an excessively high per passenger price cap and will damage the recovery of Irish aviation”.

An appeal by planning consultant Ray Ryan of BMA Planning states that “Ryanair believes that the underpass project is unnecessary because vehicular access between the eastern and western aprons of the airport is possible to achieve at surface level”.

The appeal contends that “the business case for the spending of over €200 million on this project has not been made”.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times