Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Gordon Deegan

Fingal County Council has given the green light to plans by DAA to construct a new €200 million tunnel under its Crosswind runway at Dublin airport.

The planning authority has granted planning permission to DAA for the project despite opposition from Ryanair and a north Dublin residents’ group.

The twin cell enclosed subterranean tunnel will be 700 metres long with the overall alignment being 1.1 km in length from ‘ramp to ramp’.

A DAA spokesman said today that it welcomes the decision by Fingal County Council to grant permission for the underpass at Dublin Airport “which is needed to improve the safety and efficiency of the airfield”.

He said: “The underpass forms a key part of DAA’s €1.9 billion Capital Investment Plan and will provide both direct and indirect benefits to all operators at the airport.”

The Council has granted planning after its planner concluded that the proposed development “entails a critical airfield operational safety project and will allow for the segregation of vehicles from aircraft and enable the sale and efficient operation of the Dublin Airport Campus”.

The planning report further stated that the proposed development will not give rise to significant environmental effects or that any such impacts will be successfully avoided, reduced or remediated by the mitigation measures set out.

Dublin airport is unofficially divided into an Eastern Campus, which hosts most of the airport’s infrastructure, and a Western Campus mainly used for cargo, with the Crosswind Runway 16/34 bisecting the two campuses.

With the opening of the new North runway last year, the means of access between the Eastern and Western Campus across runway 16/34 was no longer considered viable by DAA.

Planning documentation lodged with the application stated that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) advised that the continued use of the surface crossing after the opening of the North Runway is unsustainable from a safety perspective.

The Environment Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) lodged with the scheme stated that the proposal “has the advantage of providing quick, safe access” from the eastern campus to the western campus.

In documents lodged with Fingal Co Council, consultants for DAA stated that the objective of the new tunnel is to replace the existing access of the West Apron which is no longer viable with a new means of access which is both efficient in operational terms and robust in safety terms.

Construction is estimated to take about three years in total, with site mobilisation taking three months, the cut-and-fill operation about 18 months, with testing and handover a further nine months.

The underpass is proposed to be constructed using a bottom-up cut-and-cover method.

In its objection, the St Margarets, The Ward Residents Group told Fingal County Council that it is difficult to comprehend how DAA could be planning to spend the outlay on its planned underpass to cater for an average of less than four vehicle movements per hour.

The group has told the Council that the spend for just four vehicles per hour “is illogical” and a total waste of money.

On behalf of Ryanair, Ray Ryan of BMA Planning told Fingal County Council that “if the current underpass project is allowed to proceed, it will contribute towards an excessively high per passenger price cap and damage the recovery of Irish aviation, which depends on the cost competitiveness of Dublin airport”.

Mr Ryan stated that Ryanair “is concerned that these proposals will lead to considerable disruption to airport activities during the construction phase and that whether alternatives have been adequately addressed”.

If the third parties do appeal to An Bord Pleanála, it may delay, at the very least, the project for up to one year due to a backlog in cases at An Bord Pleanála currently.

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