‘It isn’t solving the problem’: Communities unsatisfied with Dublin Airport’s revised flight paths

Management previously apologised to communities that unexpectedly found themselves beneath relatively low-flying aircraft

Revised flight paths from Dublin Airport’s new north runway that came into effect on Thursday have made little to no difference for many living with unwanted fly-over noise, residents have claimed.

Airport management had previously apologised to a number of communities that unexpectedly found themselves beneath relatively low-flying aircraft when the runway opened last summer.

Moves were taken to amend so-called Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) in order to align flightpaths “more closely with the information previously communicated” by Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), which runs the airport.

In effect that altered the immediate direction of planes departing the north runway but on Thursday, just hours after they came into effect, many residents reported little improvement, an outcome widely anticipated.


Liam O’Gradaigh of the St Margaret’s The Ward residents’ committee, part of a wider community protest organisation, said while some areas had seen improvements, others closer to the airport were experiencing twice the number of flights, while some felt little difference of any kind.

Residents contend that, according to the original 2007 planning permission, planes should be flying a straight course for either five nautical miles or until they reach 3,000ft, not turning immediately after take-off. DAA declined to comment on that position.

“They will argue that for safety they must diverge,” Mr O’Gradaigh said. “That’s fine but they should have gone back for planning permission for that and they didn’t.”

In its circular to the community explaining the flight path changes, DAA said with other airfield airspace and parallel runway operations taken into account, safety regulations require departing aircraft to follow the new SIDs “which must diverge by a minimum of 30 degrees northwest”.

It said that from Thursday some areas including St Margaret’s, Shallon and The Ward Cross would continue to be overflown as anticipated. Others such as Oldtown and Ballyboughal would also continue to be overflown but at higher altitudes.

Skephubble, Kilsallaghan and Rolestown would no longer be directly overflown by jet aircraft but would remain “exposed to a certain amount of aviation noise, albeit less than currently”.

The variance in effects from the changes were met with scepticism. “The first plane came at about 9.15am and I heard it in the bedroom. It’s pretty much the same,” said David Walton of Ballyboughal Community Council, an area that unexpectedly found itself beneath flights when the new runway opened last August.

“It hasn’t materially changed the fact that it’s overflying a village.”

Fingal’s deputy-mayor Cllr Cathal Boland, who recently convened a meeting attended by about 200 people aggrieved by the situation at the airport, said he had heard similar reports from constituents on the first day.

“There was disappointment but no great surprise. It isn’t solving the problem, it’s moving the problem around.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times