asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will publish a report he received on the possible conversion of Baldonnel Aerodrome, County Dublin, for a civil/military airport.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Report on Baldonnel Aerodrome.
No report has been received in my Department on the possible conversion of Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, for military/civil purposes. The Deputy will appreciate that all questions in relation to the future of that aerodrome, in the first instance, are a matter for the Minister for Defence.
Would the Minister confirm that there could be a role for Aer Rianta in developing Baldonnel as an instrument of regional development policy akin to the Shannon Airport development in an employment black spot; that the development of Baldonnel as a joint civil and military airport could be undertaken by Aer Rianta or the private sector, which, in addition to its job implications, could attract a much needed rapid rail system to the area?
There are many ways it could be done if it was decided it was a good idea. At present I am not in favour of the proposal for a number of reasons of which the Deputy will be aware. First, it would entail substantial duplication of effort, given that Dublin Airport is already in existence. There is a massive investment of taxpayers' funds going into Dublin Airport — something in the region of £80 million — over the next four years to provide additional facilities there which will raise the capacity of Dublin Airport substantially, rendering that airport well able to meet the projected growth in demand in the future; that is apart from the security aspect altogether. The Deputy must remember also that we are talking about a travelling distance between these two airports of perhaps half an hour when the new motorway is operative. Therefore one must give very serious consideration to the question of whether it is a good idea before deciding how it could be done. At present I am not convinced it is a good idea.
Is the Minister aware that the catchment area of North Kildare, Clondalkin, Tallaght, Newcastle and Saggart, that region generally, is a much higher one than those serviced by Waterford, Sligo, Galway or Kerry regional airports? Would the Minister consider that the possible development of Baldonnel in turn would facilitate the development of tourism infrastructure in the area — for instance the Straffan Hotel, the Lyons and Carton Estates, in addition to the three racecourses in the area? Would the Minister agree that the development of Baldonnel Aerodrome would enhance the development of tourism infrastructure in the area and might assist in attracting to the area a badly needed rapid rail system at present being considered by Aer Rianta on the other side of the city in conjunction with CIE?
One does not designate an airport in order to bring on a rapid rail system. If one needs a rapid rail system one deals with that issue. Most regions in the country can advance arguments for an airport to be located there. On my desk at present I have representations from eleven locations countrywide to the effect that they would like to proceed with airport development. I will study the Deputy's ideas on this but, as of today, I am unconvinced there is merit in proceeding with a second airport in Dublin.
May I ask a supplementary question?
I must inform the Deputy that supplementary questions at this time are confined to those Deputies who tabled questions. I regret I cannot entertain the Deputy's supplementary.