Beware UFOs over Portmarnock

OF COURSE, the people of Portmarnock should be taken out, lined up and shot. That would put them from protesting. Then the rest of us could enjoy the second runway at Dublin Airport in peace.

As there are some ethical and constitutional problems with this approach we may have to find some alternatives. We could try the whole concept of empathy.

Let’s be honest. If the second runway is built, life in Portmarnock is going to become unbearable. I wouldn’t like to live under the flight path of a runway, would you?

The announcement by the new Dublin Airport Authority made official what everyone in Portmarnock feared. The new runway will be exactly parallel to the present main runway and will be 1.7km to the north of it. This puts the flight path right over the middle of Portmarnock.

The first question about the runway is: is it necessary?

Dublin airport has currently 16 million passengers and reckons it will have a problem when the numbers reach 20 million.

Gatwick airport is aiming to increase to 40 million passengers using just one runway. The Gatwick situation seems to be based on an agreement with the local council that it can’t expand until 2019. In other words it would seek a second runway if it could. But perhaps the lesson is that all airport operators are empire builders while Gatwick has had to find a way to make do.

But if the people of Portmarnock don’t want UFOs (Unwanted Flying Objects) over their heads then they might well be advised to not block a second runway.

The reason for this is that the national interest and economics might force it on them anyway. A better approach might be to seek a permanent ban on flights over Portmarnock.

There is no operational reason why the second runway needs to use the Portmarnock corridor. The airport could simply switch runways when the wind comes from the east (planes need to take off into the wind).

This is precisely what is done at Heathrow and where the local community of Cranford there have entered into a binding agreement with the airport.

It would hugely speed everything up if the Dublin Airport Authority and the Government agreed to such a ban over Portmarnock. And we wouldn’t have to shoot anyone.

The Aussies are coming – maybe

EVER wondered why you can’t fly directly from Ireland to Australia?

It’s because we don’t have a long enough runway. The larger aircraft need over 3,000m to take off fully laden. This is thought to be the reason for the proposed 3,110m northern runway at Dublin Airport as in future planes are going to get bigger.

(Shannon has the longest runway in Ireland at 3,199m, longer than the new one planned for Dublin. Which means, obviously, that operators don’t want to fly 12,000 miles and land at Shannon.)

Planes are already getting bigger. The 747-400, for example, needs nearly 3,500m to take off.

So why are we planning to build a runway shorter than this? What about the Aussies?