Residents’ fury at removal of airport passenger limit
Local residents say they’re furious that the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, has decided to do away with the passenger – or seats for sale limit – at George Best Belfast City Airport.
The umbrella residents’ group, Belfast City Airport Watch, says the limit was a crucial aspect of the airport’s planning agreement, which is designed to protect local communities against undue levels of aircraft noise.
“The Minister is flying in the face of a recommendation by the Assembly’s Environment Committee which said, just weeks ago, that the airport’s stipulated passenger limit should remain in place for now,” said BCAW’s spokesperson, Dr Liz Fawcett.
Belfast City Council has also voiced concerns.
“There will now be nothing to stop all 48,000 of the permitted annual flights in and out of the airport from using the larger, noisier type of planes which have been operating there – and that will greatly increase the misery of people living under the flight path.
“If further airport expansion is felt desirable in Northern Ireland, there’s a perfectly good international airport just 20 miles from Belfast.
“In these circumstances, we can’t understand why the Minister is ignoring the needs of the tens of thousands of ordinary people affected by aircraft noise, and placing the commercial interests of one airport above their health and quality of life.”
Last year, BCAW carried out a survey of more than 400 individuals in areas in east and south Belfast, and in north Down, affected by aircraft noise from the City Airport.
The shock findings from this survey demonstrated the extent to which aircraft noise is already a very real problem for many residents:
More than three-quarters (78%) of the 412 individuals surveyed 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.