Belfast Telegraph

More flights misery feared

By Michael Bashford

South Belfast residents are dismayed at the news that George Best Belfast City Airport's cap on passenger numbers could be lifted.

The issue has been in the news again this week after roof tiles were dislodged from east Belfast houses under flight paths yesterday (Wednesday) and at the weekend.

John Copeland, whose Great Northern Street home is directly under many aircraft flight paths, said the situation was now “impossible” for people living in the area.

On top of increased flights, residents were having to deal with motorists using the area as a rat run, and the Adelaide train halt set to be used as a workshop for overnight train repairs, he said

“We now have more planes coming from different directions and flying ever lower over this area,” Mr Copeland said.

“With trains travelling behind our homes and motorists now using Great Northern Street as a shortcut from the heavy traffic on the Lisburn Road, things are becoming unbearable.”

Mr Copeland said he had spoken to Alliance MLA Anna Lo and members of the SDLP, but that residents were basically “on their own” when it came to dealing with the problem.

Last week, the Environment Minister Edwin Poots confirmed that he is ‘likely’ to lift the cap on passenger numbers at the airport.

However, Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW), which represents residents in south and east Belfast, and in North Down, said that any such move would have grave implications for the tens of thousands of local people affected by aircraft noise.

“We’re horrified at the potential implication of allowing the airport to handle as many passengers as it wishes,” said BCAW chair Dr Liz Fawcett.

“This decision will almost certainly lead to a significant expansion by stealth of the airport and the noise problem suffered by residents.

“Until now, the passenger restriction meant a mixture of small and large aircraft used the airport.

“If this move goes ahead, there would be nothing to stop every plane being one of the larger and noisier types which currently fly from the airport.

“That would be an absolute nightmare for residents.

“While there’s still an official annual limit of 48,000 on the number of flights from the airport, if the passenger cap is removed, there will be nothing to prevent all 48,000 of those planes being of the larger and noisier type currently using the airport.

“The removal of this important safeguard would simply permit many more of the existing large planes to wreak further misery on residents.”

A spokesperson for George Best Belfast City Airport said: “Belfast City Airport welcome the resolution of this long outstanding issue and have fulfilled all obligations required in relation to the removal of seats for sale.”

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