Meath County Council supports plans for Dublin Airport expansion

Council’s senior planner says any expansion must take into account noise levels which affect people in parts of the county near the North Runway

Meath County Council has said it supports the expansion of Dublin Airport from 32 million to 40 million passengers per annum. Daa, the airport operator, has submitted a planning application for the expansion, arguing that the current cap was almost exceeded last year and will breach that figure this year. It has lodged a €2 billion infrastructure development plan to cope with extra passengers if the cap is lifted.

In a submission to the planning department of Fingal County Council the council said it “fully supports the safe and efficient development and operation of Dublin Airport”. However, Meath’s senior planner Pádraig Maguire added that any expansion of the airport must take into account noise levels which affect people in parts of the county near the North Runway.

Earlier this month residents from east and south Meath lodged objections to the expansion proposals. Submissions from Meath public representatives and residents from Ashbourne, Kilbride, Wooton and Greenogue, which are all directly on the flight path of the new North Runway, are among the 380 sent to Fingal Council Council in relation to the expansion plans.

Mr Maguire noted that aircraft noise modelling carried out as part of the current application indicates that noise abatement objectives set by Fingal County Council will be “achievable”. He added: “Any decision by Fingal County Council on the above should ensure that the amenity of residents within the approved flight paths in Co Meath are appropriately considered and protected from any potential adverse impacts.”


Meath County Council also supports the expansion of the red long-term car park while acknowledging that public transport should be prioritised to and from the airport. “In the absence of a robust and frequent public transport system the need for private vehicle use and car parking remains an essential mode of travel to Dublin Airport,” its submission states.

“Given the current capacity of existing airport car parks and the proposed increase in passenger numbers, an additional temporary or permanent car park to support the overall passenger growth in a sustainable manner is considered appropriate in these circumstances.”

Meanwhile, the HSE has criticised elements of an environmental impact report carried out as part of the planning application for the proposed expansion of the airport. The National Office for Environmental Health Services (NEHS), a HSE body that made submissions to Fingal County Council as one of several consulters to the planning process, raised questions around the assessment of the impact of operational noise in the proposed development put forward in the application.

The NEHS criticised the methodology of the environmental report in considering the impact of aircraft noise and vibration, noting that an explanatory appendix consists of “pages of discussion” relating to British policies on aviation noise.

“The use of other countries [sic] policy positions in an evaluation criteria in EIA [environmental Impact assessment] should be limited and rationalised within an Irish context. Continually stating the policy position of another country in the evaluation criteria is not the same as using a recognised assessment methodology or objective evaluation criteria adopted by that country,” the NEHS report read.

“If there is a justifiable need to consider policy positions of other countries then it should not be limited to just one country particularly, as is the case with the UK, where they are not subject to EU law in their policy development.”

The NEHS report said it could not “identity the rationale” of using the London Health Urban Development Rapid Health Impact Assessment Tool in considering the impact of the development on population and human health.

The report said that the Institute of Public Health in Ireland’s HIA Guidance for Ireland and Northern Ireland should be used as the “primary tool” for this kind of assessment, not the London test.

The NEHS also noted that the report omitted an assessment of the proposed development’s impact on accessibility and active travel, and submitted that this assessment should not have been “screened out”.

The report also said it “cannot reconcile” certain statements made in the environmental impact assessment.

One conclusion in the environmental impact assessment states that, given the increase in people who will be “highly annoyed and/or be sleep deprived” by the proposed development, “air quality, ground and aircraft noise and vibration and neighbourhood amenity as a determinant of human health and wellbeing is assessed as negative in the operational phase”.

Another conclusion, relating to aircraft noise and vibration, states: “No mitigation measures are suggested as there are no significant effects identified, and the noise abatement objective for Dublin airport is forecast to be met.”

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist