Committee Urges Department To Postpone Decision On Belfast City Airport

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 19 October 2010

Reference: ENV 02/10/11

The Assembly Committee for the Environment today held a special meeting to receive briefings from Belfast City Airport and the Belfast City Airport Watch group on the sensitive issue of the number of ‘seats for sale’ [1] out of the airport.

A 2 million ‘seats for sale’ limit was part of the 1998 planning agreement allowing the airport to build its new terminal. Before the summer the Minister for the Environment, Edwin Poots MLA indicated he was thinking of removing the limit in response to a request from Belfast City Airport, but agreed to a short consultation on the matter.

Committee Chairperson, Cathal Boylan MLA said: “The Committee today heard the opposing views of Belfast City Airport and the Belfast City Airport Watch group. It has also received briefings from the Department of the Environment on the issue at earlier meetings.

“The Committee’s initial concern is with the Department’s consultation on this matter. It was not well publicised at all. There are many things that are unclear, in particular what will the impact of the increase in seats be on local residents? Will noise levels increase as a result?

“While the Committee acknowledges that the Airport now has its own noise monitoring equipment it is concerned at the lack of any means of independent checks on this. It has been brought to the Committee’s attention that there is lack of enforcement by the Planning Service on current restrictions on the Airport so it is natural that we might be concerned at how the Airport will be monitored in the future.

“The Committee is also aware that the Airport is awaiting a decision on its planning application for a runway extension. If this application is approved it will change things – different aircraft might begin using the airport that could increase noise levels. It is the view of the Committee that the Minister should not make a decision on the number of seats for sale until the decision has been taken on the planning application, or at very least at the same time as that decision is made. That way the Minister will have all the facts available to make the correct decision.”

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