Belfast Telegraph

Airport accused of 'taking flight' over Noise Management Area bid

By Dave Whelan

George Best City Airport has been accused of taking flight over its responsibilities to set up a Noise Management Area in the residential area of east Belfast.

Concerns raised by Belfast City Council over its recommendations not being taken on board by the airport have been further supported by the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group, who have written to the Environment Minister to highlight their concern.

As part of an EU Noise Directive, the City Airport is required to submit a report to the Department of Environment detailing noise levels and plans for improvement where necessary.

Before submitting the report to the department the airport takes on recommendations from consultees, including Belfast City Council, although is not obliged to act on these if they feel they are meeting the EU guidelines.

Councillors had called for control measures to be set up for the 1% of residents most affected by aircraft noise which would include areas of Sydenham, Mersey Street and close to Victoria Park.

Dr Liz Fawcett, chairperson of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group (BCAW), said that the airport's Draft Noise Action Plan "complies with neither the spirit nor the letter of the EU's Environmental Noise Directive". She added: "That directive was meant to ensure that there was real action to tackle the problem of aircraft noise, but the airport's document promises little more than 'business as usual'.

"BCAW has written to the Environment Minister to make him aware of our concerns in this regard," she added.

A spokesperson for George Best Belfast City Airport said that they had given careful consideration to all feedback before finalising the plan

"The airport is acutely aware of the environment and community within which it operates," he said.

"We will continue to implement our noise management programme and adhere to our planning agreement with regards to the operation of flights within our scheduled operating hours.

"Less than 1% of total flights last year operated between 21:30 and our curfew of 23:59, due to exceptional circumstances. The airport will continue to fine airlines that operate flights within these hours, with all fines dispersed via our Community Fund."

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment said that the report would be "independently appraised" and that they would seek to have the plan amended if it did not meet the requirements of the directive.

Belfast Telegraph


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