Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Questions (338, 339, 340)

Pat Breen

Question:

417 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will reconsider his decision not to carry out an economic impact study on Shannon Airport and the wider region to assess the effects an Open Skies aviation policy would have on the area’s tourism and other industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8616/07]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

This matter has been raised in the House before and I have indicated that Open Skies will be good for Irish tourism, aviation, business links and the economy generally. For Irish airlines, Open Skies will give them access to every city in the US, and enable them to negotiate with different airports to obtain the best commercial deals for new services. The additional access to the US as well as the increased numbers of US tourists into Ireland will greatly benefit Irish tourism, aviation, and business links generally in all parts of the country.

A number of reports (the Brattle Report for the European Commission, the Report of the Tourism Policy Review Group to the Minister of Arts, Sport and Tourism, and the Air Transport Users Council (ATUC) of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland Report into Open Skies) all support moving to open skies with the US, and emphasise the significant benefits to Ireland when this happens.

The aviation industry has experienced dramatic change in recent years and the future development and growth of all international and regional airports in the State will depend largely on how each airport responds to the new challenges and the extent to which emerging opportunities, such as Open Skies, can be exploited.

If Shannon Airport is to develop as a successful and sustainable business, it is clear that one of the issues that must be addressed in its business plan is the airport's uncompetitive cost base. When that obstacle is overcome the Airport has a real opportunity to develop new markets and to attract the airline customers that it needs for its commercial future, the area's tourism and other industry.

With a view to assisting the airport, and the wider region, to adapt to the proposed new arrangements, my Department is currently finalising an Economic and Tourism Development Plan for Shannon, which was initiated in the context of the ongoing EU/US negotiations on Open Skies. In preparing the Plan, my Department has consulted with the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and the Department of Finance. A liaison group, established by the Mid West Regional Authority, has separately prepared a report on the future development of the Shannon region as an input to the Plan.

I intend to bring the Economic and Tourism Development Plan to fruition in the context of the finalisation of the EU/US Open Skies negotiations, which will include transitional arrangements for Shannon.

Pat Breen

Question:

418 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport further to his confirmation by way of reply to Parliamentary Question No. 222 of 9 March 2005 that a scheme was prepared in the late 1960s showing restrictions relating to runways 05/23 and 18/36 at Shannon Airport for the purposes of air safety, the date or dates on which runways 05/23 and 18/36 were later withdrawn from service; if his Department subsequently requested Clare County Council to remove the previously designated red zones from its county development plan; if the red zones still exist in their original state; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8657/07]

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Dublin Airport Authority has informed me that both of these runways (and their red zones) were withdrawn from service in the late 1960s. The inclusion or removal of red zones from County Development planning was, and still is, a matter for the local authority. Dublin Airport Authority has further informed me that the current Clare Development Plan does not include the red zones for either of these runways.

Pat Breen

Question:

419 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport further to his confirmation by way of reply to Parliamentary Question No. 264 of 28 October 2004 that the former north east to south west runway at Dublin Airport was withdrawn from service in 1990; if his Department subsequently requested Dublin County Council to remove the previously designated red zones from its county development plan; if the red zones still exist in their original state; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8658/07]

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The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has informed me that Dublin County Council was advised of the permanent withdrawal from service of Runway 05/23 (and its red zones) as part of the County Development Plan review process at that time. I am further advised by the DAA that these red zones were omitted from the associated maps in the 1993 County Development Plan.

The inclusion or removal of red zones from County Development planning was, and still is, a matter for the local authority.