Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Questions (67, 93)

Imelda Munster


67. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the rationale for putting forward plans for a third terminal at Dublin Airport despite opposition from key stakeholders; the details of the lobbying efforts to his Department and office in favour of a third terminal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45645/18]

View answer

Brendan Ryan


93. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his position on a possible third terminal in Dublin Airport; if a new terminal would be publicly owned and operated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45652/18]

View answer

Oral answers (27 contributions) (Question to Transport)

Will the Minister outline his rationale for putting forward plans for a third terminal at Dublin Airport despite almost universal opposition from key stakeholders? Will he also outline the details of the lobbying efforts to his Department and office in favour of a third terminal, and will he make a statement on the matter?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 93 together.

I am not aware that there is universal opposition to the proposal. The Deputy must know something I do not know. We have not yet carried out the consultation, but I do not expect that there will be universal opposition to it. I expect that during the consultation differing views will be expressed, with some in favour of the proposal and others against it.

As the Deputy will be aware, Oxford Economics in conjunction with Cambridge Economic Policy Associates were contracted last year, in line with a commitment outlined in the national aviation policy, to conduct a high-level strategic capacity review of Ireland’s State airports. This review was delivered to me at the end of August and provides a very helpful assessment that is specific about short-term actions and identifies further work that needs to be undertaken to assist in decision-making for the longer term. The review looks to the future needs of the three State airports to 2050, identifying priorities for new or adjusted infrastructure development to pre-empt any capacity constraints at the airports in Cork and Shannon as well as at Dublin Airport. To ensure that there is an open approach to the policy options for Dublin Airport, my officials and I have commenced a process of consultation on the review in which all stakeholders will have an opportunity to set out their views. When I have all the views and information available to me, I will carefully consider the issues and make recommendations to Government in early 2019.

DAA holds statutory responsibility to operate and develop Dublin and Cork airports and its focus, rightly, is on delivering the north runway by 2021, along with a package of other projects that are needed to address existing capacity constraints at the airport. Ireland needs these projects to be completed to ensure maximum international connectivity for our economy. It is a matter of record that in 2016 my officials and I met individuals who have publicly expressed an interest in developing a terminal at Dublin Airport. I will be very clear to the House, as I was to the individuals concerned, that if a decision in favour of an independently owned or operated terminal at Dublin Airport were to be made at any point in the future, there would have to be an open tendering process for the award of the concession.

Many stakeholders, including the DAA and several airlines, have questioned the Minister's plan for a third terminal at Dublin Airport. They say that he needs to concentrate on the more immediate needs of the airport, including the third runway, which has been a litany of disasters from the Minister's point of view. Also, the Minister's recent report raises issues around immediate capacity at Dublin Airport at peak times. Surely, this issue should be prioritised. What work is being done in this regard?

In the consideration of our aviation strategy for Dublin Airport in particular, what consideration is given by the Minister to climate emissions? How does he integrate this issue into the decision-making process in terms of investment in projects and the strategy he is following?

I will allow a question from Deputy Troy during the next round of supplementary questions.

Deputy Munster mentioned that the trade unions and various other groups are opposed to the proposal. I have not heard any response from the trade unions on the proposal. Maybe they have issued a statement, but I have not seen it.

I did not mention the trade unions.

They are key stakeholders and I presume they will have an interest in the matter. They will be consulted, as will all of the airlines. All people who are interested in making submissions should do so, including DAA, Ryanair, Aer Lingus and other interested groups. We will take those submissions into account. That is the purpose of the consultation process and the reason the report was commissioned.

On Deputy Eamon Ryan's question, the consultants were told that in compiling their report they should take into account Government policies.

The Minister has ignored the rail review over the past two years. It was flagged on numerous occasions that there are serious safety concerns around it. This pet project of the Minister is not urgent. Why is he so enthusiastic about it and why the rush to progress it? Deputy Troy asked the Minister to provide details of lobbying efforts for a third terminal and of meetings or other interactions between the Minister or his Department and lobbyists on the issue, to which the Minister responded that he would have no issue meeting lobbyists. Will the Minister confirm if he has met any lobbyists?

I am keen to hear more detail from the Minister on how he and-or his Department take account of the climate change implications of transport policies which they are applying given the Taoiseach's statement that climate change is a priority for the Government and the significant number of international reports on the issue. The Minister mentioned that the consultants take account of overall policy. Does the Minister or the Department in specific projects take into account the impact of climate emissions?

Perhaps the Minister will identify the private stakeholders he has met in regard to the future development of the airport. DAA is of the view that a third terminal is not needed. Ryanair, the largest operator at Dublin Airport, is of the view that aircraft stands and operation of the second runaway, not a third terminal, are the priority. Aer Lingus, which operates a successful hub, is also of the view that a third terminal is not a priority. Everyone but the Minister is of the view that it is not a priority.

In his earlier reply to me the Minister made the point that there is a need for long-term planning in regard to Dublin Airport. How are the plans in regard to the appointment of the independent competent authority for noise regulation progressing, which process up to now has been bad? The Minister failed to mention earlier if he stands by his decision to appoint Fingal County Council as the competent authority and how many other countries have appointed a local authority to be the independent competent authority. Will the most recent timeframe of the end of this year for the independent competent authority to be put on a statutory basis be adhered to?

On Deputy Troy's questions, I have no hesitation in saying that I stand by the appointment of Fingal County Council as the independent competent authority. The necessary legislation should be introduced this month. We believe we will deliver on schedule. There is no slippage in the timetable.

There is slippage.

We will deliver by March 2021 and the runway will be in operation by the end of 2021 as envisaged.

On Deputy Eamon Ryan's question, to which I did respond earlier, the consultants were told that in making their report they should consider everything in line with Government policy and that any recommendations they made could not contradict that policy.

What is the policy on climate change?

That is a very reasonable assertion for them to make.

On Deputy Munster's question, there will be opposition. There will be parties who will not be in favour of it and there will be others who are. I have met several groups of people. In recent months - I do not know how recently - I met representatives of virtually all of the airlines. I met the McEvaddy brothers two years ago and I have not seen them since.

Is the Minister sure about that?

I met the airlines more recently and I meet the DAA frequently. All their views, if they wish to make them known during the public consultation, will be taken into account. There will have to be a legitimate procurement process if this goes ahead, but that has not even been decided on. What we are doing at present is consulting on the basis of this report, which makes various suggestions as to whether or not to have an independent terminal.

May I ask-----

No, the Deputy may not ask a further question.

Did the Minister-----

I call Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan. Other Deputies have been waiting.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

-----say he is sure he has not met the McEvaddy brothers in the past two years?

I would like to put my question now, please.

Deputy O'Sullivan has the floor.

That is on the record of the House now. Is the Minister happy with that?