Airport drops runway extension bid
Published 24/03/2012 | 00:00
George Best Belfast City Airport has dropped an application to extend its runway, airport authorities said.
The planning process is in its fourth year and information contained within the bid is now out of date, a spokesman added.
The proposal attracted fierce criticism from residents in East Belfast and North Down who were concerned about the noise from larger aircraft.
Airport chief executive Brian Ambrose said: "As the planning process relating to the runway application is now in its fourth year and some of the information contained within is now outdated given our current operations, we have taken the decision to withdraw the current application.
"Our shareholder has therefore re-prioritised capital expenditure within its extensive portfolio. Resubmitting the runway application in the future remains an option as the airport reviews its operations on an ongoing basis."
The airport said it is investing in its facilities and is ready to welcome an influx of visitors in future years.
It has faced some tough challenges with its plans for a runway extension referred to a public inquiry and moves to lift its cap on seat sales being put into reverse by Planning Minister Alex Attwood. The runway issue was cited by Ryanair as the reason it departed the airport for good in 2010. It now seems the public inquiry will not begin until well into next year.
The airport wanted to extend the north-east end of the runway by 590 metres while retracting 120 metres from the south west. Residents opposed the extension, fearing it would lead to bigger and noisier planes using the runway. The airport had said an extension could create 100 jobs and £120 million in tourism revenue.
Mr Ambrose added: "We listen to and value the support of the local community and operate an open-door policy for anyone that wishes to discuss our developments."
A Department of Environment spokesman said: "The department notes the withdrawal and confirms that the public process around the modification of the planning agreement to establish a noise management system will commence shortly. After the process is complete, the minister will take account of the outcome of the public consultation and the subsequent independent public examination before deciding if or how the agreement should be modified."