Campaigners step up fight against runway extension
Campaigners today stepped up their fight to have an extension to the runway at the George Best Belfast City Airport rejected with publication of the findings of a new survey on aircraft noise.
Residents living under the flight path challenged Sammy Wilson to swap homes for a day - saying they were confident he would then think twice about allowing the extension.
Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW) said the survey showed 78% of residents questioned said aircraft noise affected their sleep and 75% said they often had to stop talking when a plane flew overhead.
Of the respondents with children almost half - 46% - said their children were not getting enough sleep because of aircraft noise. More than a third said their children found aircraft noise frightening.
Fiona McKinley, spokeswoman for BCAW said the results should provide a wake-up call for the minister.
"The message from the streets of east and south Belfast and from Holywood is clear - people have had enough. The Environment Minister must either reject the airport's misguided extension plan out of hand - or at the very least hold a full public inquiry into it."
She said BCAW - an umbrella group for eight residents' groups in affected areas - hoped the minister would heed their research.
"Many people feel politicians have got out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people - the Environment Minister now has the chance to show that doesn't apply to him."
The survey also found:
- 71% said aircraft noise made their gardens less pleasant to be in.
- 68% said they often could not hear the TV or radio when a plane flew over.
- 49% said aircraft noise made their lives more stressful.
In all 91% said they were concerned about the proposed runway extension, with 75% saying they were very concerned and opposed to the plan.
Lynda Downes was among those who challenged the minister to swap homes for a day. "I think he should sped the day here and then maybe he'd think twice about extending the runway. The noise is so bad that, whenever a plane goes over, my windows actually shudder."
She said her 11-year-old son Jamie was often woken in the noise.
"He often wakes up, both late at night and early in the morning because of the planes. It means he is tired during the day and can't be bothered to do stuff."
Keith Burns said weekend lie-ins were now a thing of the past.
"We're woken by the first Ryanair flight at 6.30am almost every day, even Saturdays and Sundays. It's not a great way to start your weekend," he said.
BCAW said 412 respondents were questioned during a door to door survey carried out between March and June. All were either under or close to the flight path, 281 in east Belfast, 99 in south Belfast and 32 in Holywood.