herald

Wednesday 28 September 2016

New Airport runway will need giant control tower

Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport

Plans for a second runway at Dublin Airport have revived a proposal for an 87-metre -high control tower that would dominate the city's skyline.

Planning permission for a second air traffic control tower to monitor planes at the airport was granted to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in 2010, despite opposition.

The 23-storey structure would stand taller than Liberty Hall and it would also be taller than a planned 19-storey sky scraper set for Dublin's docklands.

It is estimated that the tower will be in place by December 2019.

A hi-tech alternative is being examined, which may replace the tower if it is found suitable, and a spokesman for the IAA said similar towers were in place in other airports with parallel runways including Copenhagen, Manchester, and Istanbul.

Analysis

Experts are examining whether a "remote tower", which uses camera technology from another location, could be used at Dublin Airport instead.

The technology is only fully operational in a small Swedish airport that handles about 2,000 air traffic movements annually.

Dublin, on the other hand, is expected to handle 220,000 movements in 2016 and has projected further increases down the line.

"We will make a decision on this in the near future based on the analysis from the consultant experts," a spokesman for the IAA.

In a submission made during the planning process in 2010, Ryanair raised concerns that the IAA had not shown that the control tower needed to be 86.9 metres tall.

However, in response the company said that extensive studies had taken place prior to the decision on the height.

The IAA stated that the height was "consistent with modern thinking and best practice".

Ryanair also raised concerns that the tower would have "an adverse impact" on the capacity of the airport during construction and prior to the opening of the new runway.

Local Fianna Fail councillor Adrian Henchy said he would "be open" to the tower, provided locals were consulted with and if it was shown to be the only safe way to monitor air traffic.

"There seems to be every reason to go with the new runway, but it can only be done in partnership with the surrounding local communities," he said.

"If the tower has to be at that height and [there's] no better or safer way of doing it, then I'd be open to it.

"If the only viable option is the tower, well then it shouldn't hold things up, but I'd like to see all options on the table first."

A spokeswoman for the Portmarnock Community Association said that if the tower is needed for safety reasons locals will understand.

However, they remain strongly opposed to the current plans for the new runway.

The group is keen to see the runway operated within the guidelines set out in the planning conditions, including a restriction on night-time flights.

Locals are "vehemently opposed" to any change in the conditions attached to the runway, which airport chiefs now hope to challenge.

Residents are due to meet with the Dublin Airport Authority on Monday as part of an on-going consultation process.

"We had thought that because we knew they wanted to have a longer runway and they didn't like some of the conditions, that they would be reapply [for planning permission], but it would be costly and time consuming," the spokeswoman said.

Residents would also like to see a new rule that would close the airport at 11pm to all flights.

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