Proposals relating to the development of Dublin Airport, including the planning and provision of runway capacity, are in the first instance a matter for the Dublin Airport Authority, which has statutory responsibility to manage, operate and develop the airport and to provide such facilities and services as it considers necessary for aircraft and passengers. The airport authority has announced its intention to submit a planning application to Fingal County Council for a second parallel runway before the end of the year.
Dublin Airport will remain the country's main airport serving the needs not just of the travelling public in our capital city and the surrounding counties but also of the country's tourism, business and freight sectors generally. Notwithstanding the greatly welcome increase over recent years in traffic at Shannon and Cork airports, and to a lesser extent at the regional airports, Dublin Airport will remain crucial to the economy. In this regard, passenger traffic through Dublin Airport is expected to increase from almost 16 million last year to more than 20 million by the end of this decade and is forecast to increase to 30 million by approximately 2018.
The national spatial strategy has also acknowledged that the expansion of the level of air services from Dublin Airport to a wider range of destinations is essential in the interests of underpinning Ireland's future international competitiveness. Dublin Airport has considerable scope and capacity to expand to cater for future growth in air traffic for the foreseeable future and accordingly, in their report of 1999, consultants Warburg Dillon Read confirmed that Dublin does not need a second airport. The lands necessary for the new runway began to be acquired in the late 1960s and, as far back as 1972, the then Dublin County Council included the proposed new runway in the county development plan.
The Dublin Airport Authority is completing an environmental impact statement to accompany its planning application for the new runway to Fingal County Council. In this regard, the company has consulted local communities and the public in general on the range of environmental impacts, for example, noise, water quality, drainage, etc., of the proposed runway and the EIS will outline the company's plans to manage and mitigate any such impacts. The planning process will provide the appropriate forum for all interested parties, including local communities and residents, to have their views on the proposed new runway heard and taken into account by the planning authorities.