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Northern Ireland airspace to be restricted during G8

By Claire Cromie

An air exclusion zone will be in operation for three days during the G8 Summit, police have announced.

The skies above Belfast, Lough Erne and the corridor in between will be subject to strict aircraft restrictions as security measures are ramped up to protect the world leaders flying into Northern Ireland.

US president Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel are among those set to attend the two-day event hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Airspace above Lough Erne will restricted for three days, from 5pm on Sunday, June 16 until 11pm on Tuesday, June 18.

The exclusion zone will affect Belfast when the heads of state are arriving and leaving the country - between 7.15am and 2pm on Monday, June 17, and from 1 to 11pm on Tuesday, June 18.

The corridor between Belfast and Lough Erne - over Lough Neagh and County Tyrone - will also be restricted during these times.

The measure does not impact scheduled flights to and from Belfast's City and International airports.

But pilots operating other light aircraft, and model aircraft clubs, will be banned from flying within the zone.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said: "A significant security operation will be implemented to facilitate the transport schedules for heads of state and delegates that will be visiting Northern Ireland to participate in the G8 Summit.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland has requested airspace security restrictions for three different sectors.

"We will be writing to all clubs, associations and societies that we are aware off, who would regularly utilise airspace to make them aware of these restrictions.

"For anyone who accesses airspace, they must comply with the restrictions for the period that they are operational."

Meanwhile, airline passengers have been warned to expect disruptions getting to and from Belfast International Airport during the week of the summit.

Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine, the officer in charge of the security operation, said it was essential the airport and surrounding land were kept secure.

"Over recent weeks we have implemented a security operation and have been steadily increasing our presence in the local area and within Belfast International Airport," he said.

"As we approach June 17 this operation will intensify and the visible police presence will increase further."

Vehicle checkpoints, searches and other security-related duties will be carried out by officers and the checkpoints mean motorists may face delays, Mr Irvine said.

"Unfortunately it is impossible to predict at this stage the degree of any delay individual motorists may experience. However, we expect that the police resources deployed to the area will be such that any disruption will be kept to a minimum," he added.

"It is our aim that throughout the security operation the community, businesses and motorists should be able to go about their daily lives as normally as possible, however in order to make this happen we need people to work along with us by heeding the advice given."

He predicted potential delays for those travelling through the Antrim, Crumlin, Templepatrick, Killead or Aldergrove areas between June 14 and 19.

As part of the huge security operation around the high-profile event, a seven-mile stretch of Fermanagh's Lough Erne is being closed down completely across three days.

Surveillance drones will assist an 8,000-strong police force in guarding key sites in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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