Residents take airport campaign to City Hall

Residents from east and south Belfast took their campaign against further expansion of George Best Belfast City Airport to the City Hall this evening [Tuesday, 3rd August].

A delegation from the umbrella residents’ group, Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW), urged a specially-convened meeting of Belfast City Council’s Town Planning Committee, to which all councillors were invited, to oppose plans which would allow the airport to significantly increase its operations.

Mother-of-two, Christine Savage, from the Templemore Avenue area of east Belfast, told councillors how the planes disrupt her sleep and that of her two young children.

Another east Belfast resident who spoke about their personal experience was Don Melrose from the Parkgate area. He recounted how he was recently hit by a flying roof tile which, he believes, was blown off by an aircraft which was coming into land at the airport.

Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of BCAW’s Steering Group, outlined to councillors the results of a survey of more than 400 individuals in areas affected by aircraft noise, mostly in east and south Belfast. The survey found that:

  • More than three-quarters (78%) of the respondents said that aircraft noise affected their sleep
  • Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they often had to stop talking when a plane flew over because they couldn’t be heard
  • Of the 157 respondents with children, nearly half (46%) said their children weren’t getting enough sleep because of aircraft noise.
  • More than a third (34%) of those with children said their children found aircraft noise frightening.

Dr Fawcett said the group was delighted with the reception it got from the councillors.

“A large number of councillors made the effort to attend the meeting, and they listened most attentively and with great interest,” she said.

“The Council is one of only three bodies being consulted by the Environment Minister, prior to the decision he intends to make on his proposal to remove the airport’s seats for sale or passenger limit – so the Council’s view is really crucial on this issue.

“Our concern about the removal of the seats for sale cap is that the restriction ensures that the airport operates a mix of small, medium and larger aircraft – if that limit was taken away, there would be nothing to stop every plane being one of the larger ones.”

The residents also urged councillors to oppose the airport’s planned runway extension which is to be the subject of a public inquiry.

“The Council’s views on the runway extension will carry considerable weight at the forthcoming public inquiry,” explained Dr Fawcett.

“We pointed out to councillors that aircraft noise linked to the City Airport actually affects almost 38,000 residents within the Council’s area.

“We hope very much that the Council will support those residents by doing all it can to ensure that aircraft noise doesn’t get any worse.”

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