Golf clubs have complained of intolerable noise and fumes from planes departing Dublin Airport’s controversial new runway, prompting many players to consider abandoning their memberships.
Since its opening last August, the north runway has provoked anger in surrounding communities because of loud engine noise from aircraft flying overhead.
DAA, which runs the airport, has apologised for the situation and said revised standard instrument departures (SIDs) due later this month will alter routes.
However, Forrest Little Golf Club, sitting in the immediate northerly shadow of the airport, will not benefit from a change in flight paths because the planes take off immediately adjacent to its fairways.
In a recent letter to AnnMarie Farrelly, chief executive of Fingal County Council, the club outlined its frustrations, and its members are due to meet with DAA officials amid growing public disquiet.
At its agm, one member described how he had been forced from the course having become physically ill as a consequence of aircraft fumes.
“You would be very conscious of inhaling as little as you can put up with while this waft of almost warm air [passes], but actually the smell of fumes” is an issue, the club’s honorary secretary Martin Kelly told The Irish Times of the experience.
This year, the club has noticed many members either leaving or indicating they will stay for one more year to see if conditions improve. Of a recent 10 per cent decline in the club’s approximately 800 membership, Mr Kelly said the majority would have cited the aircraft issue as a motivating factor.
“People are saying they would put up with the noise if that’s all it was, but it’s a combination of the noise and the fumes,” he said, adding that players had also highlighted safety concerns of being unable to hear warnings of stray golf balls.
Although club members knew the runway’s opening last August was inevitable, Mr Kelly said they had been reassured modern aircraft would be quieter. The reality was far more severe than they had expected.
In its letter to the local authority, it acknowledged that expansion of the airport was an economic necessity but bemoaned the disruption to its business.
“It’s going to be hard to encourage new members,” Mr Kelly said, adding that with the passage of time the course would develop a reputation akin to playing on a motorway.
Similar concerns have been raised by Corrstown Golf Club, which lies fewer than 10 kilometres to the north. It has been unexpectedly affected by skewed flight paths.
“On a busy day there is constant noise from opening until mid-afternoon,” it outlined in recent correspondence to a local representative which raised concerns about the effects on club finances.
“What was an oasis of peace is now severely negatively impacted by this noise. Both members and visitors are constantly commenting on the severity of this unwelcome intrusion.”
The club expressed frustration that it, as well as residents in the area, had been left to scrutinise planning diagrams “trying to make sense of what has happened” in terms of flight paths.
It noted that although “the impact on our golf club cannot compare to the impact on residents in their own homes or schools, we have laboured long and hard to build a beautiful facility which is currently being vandalised by noise pollution.”
DAA has said the new SIDs will come into operation from February 23rd, but many in the community remain sceptical they will have any great effect in reducing noise levels.
At a recent community meeting, a number of residents in the suburb of Swords said they were worried by the smell of aircraft fuel.
One resident based in Ridgewood said, depending on wind conditions, they could be subjected to “fairly severe fumes on a near-daily basis, to the point where you can sometimes open a window and smell it in your house”.
Another said she could smell the fuel in her garden and wondered if there was a health risk to her children “inhaling that on a daily basis”.
A spokesman for DAA said it conducts continuous air quality monitoring at the airport and in surrounding communities.
“Monitoring is undertaken at locations both inside and outside the airport boundary, allowing us to keep a constant eye on air quality levels,” he said.
“The results are shared on the Dublin Airport website, with the local community and the Environmental Protection Agency. Since North Runway opened in August 2022, there has been no marked change in air quality readings at our monitoring stations.”