Residents near Dublin Airport say relations are at an ‘all-time low’ with DAA after noise insulation offer

Criticism of new chief Kenny Jacobs comes after airport operator offered more homeowners domestic noise insulation following review

Residents around Dublin Airport have criticised its new chief executive for refusing an invitation to meet them in order to reset relations they consider to be at “an all-time low”.

It comes as DAA, the airport operator, has written to more homeowners in the surrounding areas offering domestic noise insulation following a review of flight paths earlier this year.

Relations between surrounding communities and airport management have become severely strained by the opening of the North Runway last year and the impact of noisy low-flying planes over areas that had not expected them.

In recent correspondence, Kenny Jacobs, who took up the chief executive post in January, told the St Margaret’s The Ward group that given various ongoing planning issues at the airport, “it is not appropriate at this juncture to discuss matters which are the subject of these statutory processes”.


Mr Jacobs also noted the group had engaged legal representation, further precluding him from engaging. He has committed to meeting with various community stakeholders after statutory and legal processes have ended.

DAA ambitions to extend the runway’s use currently remain under appeal with An Bord Pleanála, while Fingal County Council’s planning department is investigating complaints regarding flight paths.

Despite his refusal to meet the local community in person, Mr Jacobs vigorously defended DAA’s track record on engagement throughout.

“Balancing the needs of an international airport with the requirement of local residents is a challenge for all airports that are of a similar size to Dublin,” he wrote.

However, that position has done little to satisfy residents who expressed a desire to reset relations, now considered to be at an all-time low. Liam O’Gradaigh, of the St Margaret’s The Ward group, described Mr Jacob’s reluctance to meet as “mind-boggling”.

“We are attempting to engage with him. You can’t have a master plan for massive growth without having engagement with the community. We are stakeholders,” he said.

“We are not being listened to. They are railroading everything by us.”

Meanwhile, a recent review of departure flight paths from the North Runway has led to more homeowners being offered access to a noise insulation scheme.

They have been told they can apply for an initial noise assessment of their properties, after which appropriate insulation would be put in place. To date work has been carried out on about 150 of 200 eligible homes.

“Both Fingal County Council and An Bord Pleanála have determined the appropriate mitigations for Dublin Airport, namely voluntary insulation and house purchase schemes, and we are fully complying with those requirements,” Mr Jacobs outlined in his letter to the residents’ group.

Residents have interpreted the new round of insulation as a de facto admission by airport management that the flight paths are not where they should be and are in breach of planning. DAA has dismissed that accusation.

A spokeswoman for the council confirmed its planning investigation of the airport runway was ongoing.

A DAA spokesman said it was “surprised and disappointed” that its efforts to address issues raised by the community “are being viewed as negative”.

“A number of residents who previously opted not to participate in the voluntary Residential Noise Insulation Scheme have once again been offered insulation works, along with seven additional dwellings which have become eligible as a result of updated contours arising from a review of actual and forecasted operations in 2023,” he said.

“There was always a provision for review. Far from this being an admission that ‘flight paths are not where they should be’, this is a genuine gesture of goodwill on DAA’s part to provide eligible local residents with appropriate mitigations.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times