Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McLaughlin supports residents demand for public inquiry into Belfast City extension

8 December, 2008

Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has stated his support for East and South Belfast residents demand for a public inquiry into the proposed runway extension at Belfast City Airport.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"I support the demand by residents in East and South Belfast for a public inquiry into expansion proposals at the Belfast City Airport. I do not believe that existing planning conditions are being adhered to by the Airport Management and therefore there is no reason to believe that in the event of permission being granted for the proposed extension that any future restrictions would be respected.

"While the residents' demands are based mainly on social and environmental issues and I support them in their arguments, I believe that there is also compelling economic and strategic reasons why there should be a public inquiry. Strategically this facility is a City Airport that should be operated as such with specific regard for the residential characteristic of the area within which it is located and therefore this site does not lend itself to increased air traffic or larger planes.

"Economically, I do not believe that Belfast City is suitably positioned to cater for the type of route expansion that is required to attract additional air passengers to the region. It is landlocked and in close proximity to residential areas. Although there should be provision for the Airport to compete as a regional facility, nevertheless it does not demonstrate the capacity to become an international Airport.

"The public inquiry should include an economic impact assessment of benefits or disadvantages that such proposals would have on the long-term strategic plans for increasing the numbers of international air passengers coming to the Region. I believe that development of Belfast City would be to the detriment of the International Airport and could result not only in a net loss in passenger numbers but the loss of internationally recognisable brand name airlines and therefore damaging potential growth in the Tourism Industry."

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