North Dublin residents angered at “unacceptable aircraft noise pollution” have said proposed changes to flight paths next month will make little difference to their communities.
At a meeting on Thursday night, approximately 200 people, including political representatives, gathered to discuss ongoing problems with flights departing from Dublin Airport’s new north runway, which opened in August.
Since then, complaints have emerged of aircraft banking right on take off and flying low over communities that never expected to be under flight-paths.
DAA, the company that runs the airport, has previously apologised for the situation which, it said, had resulted in “some local communities being unexpectedly overflown”.
A subsequent review of the departure flightpaths concluded that so-called Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) required updating to bring them more closely in line with previously anticipated routes. Revised SIDs will come into effect from February 23rd.
Thursday’s meeting, which was organised by Fingal County Council’s deputy mayor Cllr Cathal Boland, heard several complaints about noise, fumes and potential health impacts.
Liam O’Gradaigh of the St Margaret’s The Ward residents’ committee gave a detailed overview of the contentious flight paths but said next month’s amendments would do little to alleviate the problem.
The committee consulted pilots and air traffic controllers about updates to the SIDs. It believes the changes will “not relieve” several affected areas because flights can still be diverted once they climb above 3,000ft.
“What we best think,” he said, pointing to a chart illustrating flight paths, “[is] you can see Rolestown is still going to get hammered, Oldtown probably will, Ballyboughal is certainly going to get hammered, worse than it is at the moment.”
DAA was invited to Thursday’s meeting but did not attend. At least eight local councillors and three TDs were present.
Several residents raised the issue of fuel odours from low-flying aircraft. One woman asked if her children’s health was in jeopardy. Another resident said his “windows are literally rattling” when planes take off.
Niamh Maher of the St Margaret’s The Ward residents’ committee gave a presentation on research into potential health implications from aircraft noise, including stress, increased blood pressure and diabetes as a consequence of chronic exposure.
“It is well documented that aircraft noise can have significant effects on our children’s learning, cognition and also their health,” she said, citing the RANCH Project study on the cognitive effects of traffic and aircraft noise.
One resident, John Smith, said four or five of his neighbours had suffered increased blood pressure since flights began passing overhead between 9am and 1pm.
Attendees were asked to contribute to a fund for potential expert witnesses and legal representation. David Walton of the Ballyboughal Community Council said there should be a political aspect to their protest.
“It needs to go right up to the top [that] there is going to be a very heavy political price to pay in the Government parties if they abandon us to this,” he said.
Fingal County Council, on foot of several complaints, has sent a warning letter to DAA and opened a planning enforcement file investigating alleged non-compliance with restrictions on flight paths and noise.
In response to queries at a meeting on Monday, councillors were told its planning officials had requested further information “as part of the ongoing investigations into the alleged offences”.
Airport management told them there was “significant work involved” in compiling requested data and so it had been granted an extension to respond no later than February 6th.