Dublin Airport has been ordered to cut the number of night-time flights it is operating within six weeks.
The runway has been a source of huge contention for North Dublin residents since it opened last August – with locals warning that the ‘stressful and disturbing’ noise from planes passing overhead was preventing people from sleeping.
In an enforcement order sent to airport operator DAA last week, Fingal County Council ruled that the number of night-time flights currently operating from the runway during the airport’s summer schedule amounts to an ‘unauthorised development’.
It ordered the airport to bring itself back in line with its planning permission by reducing the number of nighttime flights at the airport to an average of 65 a night.
It gave DAA six weeks to comply with its planning permission conditions.
Fewer flights than before
The condition referred to in the order states that the average number of night-time aircraft movements at the airport should not exceed an average of 65 per night over a 92-day period.
In a statement this afternoon, DAA chief Kenny Jacobs said complying with the order would leave the airport running fewer night flights than it was before the new runway opened.
"It would be like increasing the number of seats in Croke Park to 100,000 but cutting the capacity for games to 50,000," he said. "It makes no sense, and the travelling public deserves better."
DAA also took issue with the six-week compliance period, and called on FCC to extend the period to six months to "avoid any needless disruption to peoples’ travel plans and airlines’ cargo operations".
It urged the Government to ensure An Bord Pleanla has the resources to issue a verdict within six months on whether it agrees with DAA that a noise quote system is a better way to manage night-time noise at large airports than a flight quota.
Mr Jacobs said the order is "bad for the Irish consumer, bad for the Irish economy, bad for Ireland’s connectivity with the world and bad for the effective operation of Dublin Airport".
"Despite bringing a piece of national strategic infrastructure into operation on time and on budget, and in full alignment with the State’s National Aviation Policy, this enforcement action would result in Dublin Airport having fewer aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am on two runways than it had on one," he said.
"It is a sad indictment of the Irish planning system that this issue has been ongoing for the past seven years - since before construction work on North Runway began.”
He said DAA is fully committed to balancing the needs of a major international airport with the needs of the local people.
"We are also committed to working in close cooperation with Fingal County Council and we call on them to see sense on this issue and avoid unnecessary disruption to flights and protect connectivity and jobs,” he said.
The FCC enforcement order notes that DAA is "not in conformity" with the conditions of its planning permission and has "not sought to remedy the unauthorised development".
It also notes that there are "no compelling reasons" for DAA's failure to remedy the situation.