Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (620)

Seán Haughey


620. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has satisfied himself that Fingal county council has the capacity to monitor aircraft noise; if the local authority will have a briefing for persons living outside the Fingal area; the reason the Environmental Protection Agency was not selected for this role; if other local authorities will also be selected to monitor aircraft noise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9576/18]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the State is required to appoint an airport noise regulator under EU Regulation 598/2014.  In Ireland, only Dublin Airport is large enough to fall subject to the regulation.

As I have previously explained in the Dáil, an earlier proposal to appoint the Irish Aviation Authority as the noise regulator ultimately ran up against legal advices, which made it impractical.  Therefore, an alternative had to be found.  Following discussions between my Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Environment, it was agreed that on balance - and having regard to the requirements of the EU Regulation - that Fingal County Council offered the best way forward. 

Fingal already has responsibilities under an EU environmental noise directive which encapsulates responsibilities relating to noise caused by conurbations and major transport infrastructures including roads, railways and airports.  In addition, having regard to its planning functions, it has considerable experience and expertise in the conduct of environmental impact assessments, appropriate assessments and in managing extensive public consultations.  There are therefore synergies arising from the assignment of this additional role.  The regulatory function will reside with Fingal County Council only, but in carrying out its role it will clearly have to have regard to aircraft noise related to traffic at Dublin Airport beyond the confines of its own local authority area.  It will be a matter for Fingal to determine how best to do this. 

The Government recently approved my proposal to designate Fingal County Council as the noise regulator for Dublin Airport with An Bord Pleanála as the appeals body and the full details of how the regulation will be implemented, including the role and responsibilities of Fingal County Council as well as any public consultation requirements, will be set out in primary legislation.

It is true that Fingal will have to build some additional expert capacity - that requirement would arise no matter what body this role is assigned to  - and the draft legislation will provide for additional funding to provide for this.

My Department has just commenced drafting Heads of a Bill and it is my intention to have this legislation enacted by the end of the year.