Belfast Telegraph

Airport's neighbours make a noise of over a plane racket

by Fiona Rutherford

Residents from east and south Belfast took their campaign against further expansion of George Best Belfast City Airport to the City Hall on Tuesday, August 3.

A delegation from the umbrella residents’ group, Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW) held a meeting with Belfast City Council’s Town Planning Committee to oppose plans which would allow the airport to significantly increase its operations.

Mother-of-two Christine Savage, from Templemore Avenue, told councillors how the planes disrupted her young children’s sleep. Another resident, Don Melrose recounted how he was recently hit by a flying roof tile he believes was blown off by an aircraft arriving at the airport.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported this week that it could not say why the slates were dislodged and found no evidence of low-flying aircraft.

Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of BCAW’s Steering Group, told councillors how a survey of over 400 people in east and south Belfast found that 78% were adamant aircraft noise affected their sleep; three-quarters said they couldn’t be heard speaking when a plane flew overhead; 46% of the 157 respondents with children said their kids were sleep deprived due to aircraft noise and more than a third with children said their youngsters found aircraft noise frightening.

Dr Fawcett praised councillors who attended and said the council was one of three bodies being consulted by the Environment Minister, prior to his decision on his proposal to remove the airport’s seats for sale or passenger limit. She said residents feared that if the cap was removed, which carries a restriction ensuring the airport operates a mix of small, medium and larger aircraft, “there would be nothing to stop every plane being one of the larger ones”. Residents also urged councillors to fight the planned runway extension, pending a public inquiry.

Meanwhile, the CAA’s investigation into the June 8 roof tile incident at Mr Melrose’s house at Parkgate Drive found no evidence of low flying aircraft. It concluded the plane had been on the correct flight path and altitude.

It failed to find a reason for the slate damage, which the airport had swiftly repaired in a gesture of goodwill, according to Mark Beattie, airport operations director. He said the report was consistent the airport’s own internal investigation.

He said that though most planes arrive at the city over Belfast Lough, weather sometimes dictated an approach over the city.

Mr Beattie stressed the airport complied with strict procedures and was sensitive to local views.

Belfast Telegraph

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