UPROAR will need a Plan B

THE UPROAR group from Portmarnock have fought a tough battle against the second runway at Dublin Airport and they must be given credit for their guts, work rate and staying power.

They have lost the first big battle at Fingal County Council and now they are taking their case to An Bord Pleanala. They may not fare much better there.

Essentially, the UPROAR case is that the second runway would be a disaster for Portmarnock and therefore shouldn’t be built. They have brought in a lot of other issues such as land devaluation, traffic and so on. But basically the issue is about noise.

My gut feeling is that Dublin Airport is so important to the economy that the second runway is going to be built regardless of any protests. It is probably justified in the long term.

This being so, it is time that UPROAR started to adjust their campaign from an outright ‘no’ to the runway to one of damage limitation.

As I have pointed out in this column before, there is no need for airplanes to overfly Portmarnock in the event of the second runway being built. I’ll try and explain why. 

Airplanes must take off and land into wind. The main runway at Dublin airport, and the proposed parallel one, run pretty much east to west. This means that if the wind is blowing from the west that planes must approach from the east and vice versa.

Now, obviously, in the new arrangement one runway will be used for planes taking off while the other will be used for planes landing. The key thing to note is that both runways may be used for both take offs and landing from either directions as required.

This means that a simple rule can be adopted that no plane should overfly Portmarnock. When the wind blows from the west, planes can approach the southern runway from the east while planes can take off to the east from the new northern runway. When the wind blows from the east, planes can approach the northern runway from the east while planes take off from the southern runway.

As I say, this means that no plane would ever need to use the flight path over Portmarnock. But, as I understand it, neither UPROAR or the DAA has opted for this compromise approach.

Why not?

I would imagine that the DAA wouldn’t want to have extra regulations. They would seek the maximum operational flexibility. They should be told where to go.

UPROAR know that at some point after a second runway is built that planes are going to fly over Portmarnock, for example, if the southern runway was shut for maintenence, so they are holding out for total victory. 

But the big bad day is coming. If UPROAR don’t demand the maximum protection for Portmarnock while the planning process is ongoing, then they might well lose everything. This is the time to have all those planning conditions and controls laid down on the use of the new runway.

Next year is election year. UPROAR have pointed this out too. But I don’t think any party is going to give a ‘no runway’ hostage to fortune. A ‘no-flyover’ policy is a far more likely runner.

Plan B beckons.