Residents call on Poots to act on damning City Airport report

Runway extension plan must be rejected, says BCAW

Campaigners have called on the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, to reject the controversial runway extension plan submitted by George Best Belfast City Airport in the light of a scathing official report on the proposal.

Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW), which represents residents in east and south Belfast, and in north Down, says the Minister must act following the emergence of the damning report which was written by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and commissioned by the Planning Service.

The residents’ group is also urging the Minister to publish the contents of the report which was produced last November but was not made public at the time.

In the meantime, BCAW has obtained a copy of the scathing report and has published it on its own website.

The detailed report is heavily critical of vital information submitted by the airport in support of its plan. In its report, the CAA, which is the UK’s official aviation regulator:

  • highlights the fact that, if the runway extension went ahead, there would be little to prevent huge aeroplanes, such as A310 Airbuses and Boeing 757s, from using the airport
  • concludes that the methodology used to calculate the likely additional noise impact resulting from a runway extension is misleading and has seriously underestimated the potential scale of the problem
  • criticises the airport for assuming it will be flouting the current official cap on its passenger numbers by nearly one million more passengers than is actually permitted under the airport’s existing planning agreement with the Planning Service
  • takes the airport to task for failing to provide sufficient detail on its future air traffic forecasts in stark contrast to other UK airports making similar planning applications

“This report makes it abundantly clear that the airport is not prepared to come clean on its true intentions and is happy to flout any planning restrictions imposed if it thinks it can get away with it,” said Liz Fawcett, a spokesperson for Belfast City Airport Watch. “It vindicates many of the points we have been making.

“The document was submitted by the CAA to the Planning Service last November and we have to wonder why it is only now that it has come into the public domain.

“We’re calling on the Environment Minister to say ‘enough is enough’ and to reject this misguided proposal out of hand.”

Belfast City Airport Watch opposes the runway extension proposal because an extended runway would enable planes to carry larger loads of passengers and fuel, leading to heavier aircraft and greater levels of noise.

The proposal would also enable the airport to greatly expand its operations.

Both these points are supported by the CAA report which states that, in terms of the proposed runway length alone, it would be possible to operate larger aircraft from the extended runway, possibly with some adaptations to ground infrastructure.

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