Minister Ross needs to reconsider selection of Fingal County Council as airport noise regulator - Imelda Munster TD
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Transport, Imelda Munster TD, has described Minister Shane Ross’s handling of the airport noise regulator matter as “shambolic”, and has called on him to reconsider the decision he has taken to appoint Fingal County Council as the noise regulator for Dublin airport, given concerns about a conflict of interest, as Fingal collects rates from the DAA to the tune of 8% of its total funding.
Speaking during a second stage debate on the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill, Deputy Munster stressed the importance of ensuring that the regulator is appointed in order to allow construction of the second runway at the airport, whilst ensuring that the concerns around noise and night-time flights of local residents was taken on board.
Deputy Munster said:
“The Minister has assumed that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) would assume this role, but they failed independence tests as required by EU law. Fingal is stepping into the gap now because we have missed the deadline to appoint a regulator and the department is in a panic.
“This is not how the Minister should be doing business. He has tried to hammer this legislation through in a couple of weeks, though fortunately my colleagues and I at the transport committee put a stop to that.
“Fingal has been selected as the noise regulator because it will be able to assume the role fastest. This is not a very convincing reason to appoint Fingal to the position. The chief rate-payer to the council is the DAA, which in my opinion is a clear conflict of interest. This has been foisted upon Fingal and it is unfair to put the council in this position.
“This also raises the issue of future planning conditions. The noise regulator should not be involved in collecting rates or making planning decisions for the entity that it regulates. The noise regulator must be independent. It is completely understandable that local residents would have concerns about the independence of the noise regulator, and about future planning decisions.
“I am calling on the Minister to rethink this decision. The Commission for Aviation Regulation has passed EU independence tests, has an existing regulatory function, and is expected to assume civil aviation regulatory functions in the future. I think it should be considered as a more appropriate noise regulator.
“I intend to submit amendments to the bill in the New Year to this effect, and I hope that the Minister will take my suggestions on board.”