Dublin Airport contributes much to the economy of the area in which it is situated. It provides jobs and much for Dublin and the east coast as a whole, as the Minister and I both know and appreciate. However, there are some ongoing noise issues in communities in the locality surrounding the airport. Residents of places in Santry such as Santry Close, Royal Oak and Turnapin have ongoing issues with noise from low flying aircraft. Incidents are occurring at night time and disturbing sleep for many. The Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, appears, in effect, to be fobbing off complaints. It is stating the flights late at night and early in the morning are by empty aeroplanes returning to base. Of course, it does not matter if a aeroplane is empty or full as far as the individuals and households beneath them are concerned. They are still flying over their houses and making the same amount of noise because the engines are still of the same size.
The Minister met a number of residents from the affected area of Turnapin in October 2016. He promised to assist and the residents received him warmly, as he received them. The meeting was very constructive. Nevertheless, things have not progressed since. As the crow flies, Turnapin is closer to the noise paths and contours of the airport than many other areas which are receiving much more assistance from the DAA. I hope the Minister can encourage it to expand the noise insulation programme to include residents in Turnapin in Santry. I also hope he can use his considerable influence and the weight of his office to impress on the DAA the need to do this. It would be the right thing to do.
On 27 June, DAA held a drop-in clinic. Residents were given only two days' notice and my office was not given any formal notice. I only found out by chance on social media. Nevertheless, by DAA's own admission, the clinic attracted a higher turnout than many other local clinics where this insulation programme already exists. This is clearly a pressing issue for communities such as Turnapin, Royal Oak and Santry Close.
Dublin Airport's new runway is ambitious, and is part of the airport's growth and the success story of the airport, of Dublin tourism and the economy's bounce-back. However, there are also concerns about the impact this will have on local communities with more flights, noise and hours. Perhaps there will be more broken promises on night-time flights. There are concerns that DAA might apply for 24-7 operations, which would mean low-flying aircraft over residential areas in the middle of the night, which already occurs but is explained away as their being empty, rather than full, aircraft, which makes no difference. Residents have been unimpressed by Fingal County Council's appointment as noise regulator. They do not believe it will make a difference. Will the Minister explain how it will? Residents believe there is a conflict of interest as the council is receiving rates from the airport and therefore is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the airport being in the council area but the council is also charged with regulating the airport. Will the Minister explain?