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Decision on airport expansion delayed by noise watchdog

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Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport's new noise regulator's first and only case remains unresolved after six months.

The regulator, or Airport Noise Competent Authority (Anca), is in lengthy corres- pondence with the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) over the amount of information it needs to make a decision on the likely noise implications of the DAA's plans to increase passenger numbers from 32 million a year to 35 million.

Assessments

In the meantime, the planning authority, Fingal County Council, cannot approve or refuse the increase in passenger numbers until it knows Anca's views.

Latest correspondence between the sides reveals the DAA has asked for a six-month extension to come up with the noise assessments that Anca is demanding.

However, Anca is seeking numerous reports from the DAA by March 31 before deciding whether to grant the extension.

Anca came into operation last September as a unit within Fingal County Council and has an anticipated budget of €1.9m this year.

Under EU law, it must assess all planning applications in and around Dublin Airport and apply restrictions if they are likely to increase noise beyond permitted levels.

Any decision by Anca has to be followed by a public consultation period, and the final decision after that may be subject to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.

Only after all these procedures have been completed can any proposed restrictions be submitted to the Euro- pean Commission for approval.

The DAA is facing a growing number of noise complaints from the public, typically more than 1,000 a year.

Despite the airport's current woes with flights grounded and airlines uncertain when coronavirus restrictions will be lifted, work is continuing on a second runway.

Tougher

By some estimates, that could allow up to 45 million passengers a year to use the airport in future if permission was granted for expansion on that scale.

However, the airport is facing tougher regulations on the levels of noise that can be generated by aircraft, which may lead to restrictions on flight numbers and night-time flying.

Anca has considered two other planning applications since it was set up, one for a vehicle maintenance facility and the other for a machinery storage building, but both were judged not to require any noise assessment.

The DAA said it had no comment to make on its ongoing engagement with Anca.