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Far too early for passenger limits at City Airport to be removed – Ó Donnghaile

19 October, 2010


Sinn Féin’s east Belfast Representative Niall Ó Donnghaile welcomed the move by the Assembly’s Environment Committee to urge Environment Minister Edwin Poots to defer a decision on removing the limit of sales until the inquiry into the runway extension is completed.

Mr Ó Donnghaile said that the ultimate decision on this matter will be taken by the Minister Edwin Poots but that he “must take on board the many legitimate concerns expressed in relation to both the cap on seats for sale and the proposed runway extension.”

Speaking from the Assembly where the Committee meeting is taking place Mr Ó Donnghaile said;

“Residents, community groups, political representatives as well as the ‘Belfast City Airport Watch Group’ have all expressed serious concerns about the removal of the cap on seats for sale.

This morning I reiterated these concerns directly to my party colleagues Cathal Boylan MLA who chairs the Environment Committee and Willie Clarke MLA who sits on the Committee.

I am glad that the proposition from Cathal, that the Committee urge the Minister to defer a decision on this matter until the inquiry into the runway extension is completed was carried.

It is important to note that while we are not opposed to stimulating our economy and creating the potential for greater tourism, investment or job creation opportunities I do believe that it is premature to be considering the removal of the cap on the seats for sale at this stage.

many have expressed serious concern that if restriction on sales was removed, we would see larger aircraft being able to use the City Airport and thereby increasing the already contested amount of noise and air pollution across the constituency.

At today’s meeting the Belfast City Airport Watch Group made reference to the high levels of nitrogen dioxide recorded in the Short Strand area as one example of concern. This is something I am deeply concerned about and will be writing to the Minister to seek clarity on this issue.

I would hope that the Minister will heed the concerns of residents and now the Environment Committee and that the lifting on passenger restrictions should not be considered until such times as the runway extension inquiry is completed.” CRÍOCH

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