Tuesday, 26 June 2018
The delay in taking decisive decisions by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on a second runway at Dublin Airport has reached farcical levels. We know Deputy Shane Ross is no expert in transport matters. We all remember the 2010 article he wrote declaring that terminal 2 was a "white elephant, destined to be the most underused terminal in Europe". How wrong he was. It is a quotation Boris Johnson would have been proud of in its predictability, inaccuracy, etc. Boris Johnson had to go to Afghanistan in a hastily arranged trip to deal with his own runway problems at Heathrow Airport. I wonder where the Taoiseach plans to send the Minister. He has failed to advance legislation that is critical to the runway project, in particular, regarding the appointment of a noise regulator and the transposition of an EU directive that would enable Dublin Airport Authority to appeal planning restrictions on the project which make no sense given the enormous growth at Dublin Airport. Last April, the chief executive officer, Mr. Dalton Philips, signalled his deep alarm at Government delays overshadowing the project. He said the delay in bringing forward the legislation could be catastrophic and impact significantly on employment.
Dublin Airport has positioned itself as a global hub, yet the existing conditions attached to this planning permission would restrict the entire airport to 65 aircraft movements. It currently facilitates twice that number with one runway.
The Minister promised this legislation 22 months ago and designated the Irish Aviation Authority as the noise regulator. He got that wrong, as well as getting wrong the necessity for legislation by thinking a statutory instrument would do. The authority had started recruiting specialised staff but he had to reverse that and has now designated Fingal County Council as the noise regulator to deal with these legacy issues. This is a critical piece of infrastructure with an enormous impact on the Irish economy that indirectly supports 97,000 jobs.
Why the delay? Why the mess-up? The Minister has messed up and he has delayed both the nomination of a noise regulator and the initiation of legislation. What is the Minister, Deputy Ross, doing with the most critical piece of infrastructure before his Department? The Government has known about this since 2014 and there has been no action. Why is the Minister so indecisive on this issue? Why has he been so ill informed? Why has he failed to do the groundwork on all these issues? When can we finally expect the legislation to be published and passed in order that this project can get under way?