9. Environmental & Community Issues

9. Environmental & Community Issues

Land use planning around an airport such as Dublin, should ensure that future development:

  • Is sustainable and designed to the highest environmental standards, in recognition of its national gateway and flagship infrastructure asset status;
  • Responds to important environmental constraints associated with future development and includes mitigation where necessary and appropriate;
  • Effectively balances national economic and environmental objectives, having regard to the interests of all relevant stakeholders and airport related communities.

Local Environmental Impacts

Environmental considerations that are of particular significance in and around Dublin Airport include:

  • Community impact – the plan should take account of any potential impact on local communities in addition to having regard to wider environmental issues;
  • Aircraft noise – unacceptable exposure can have effects on human health and well-being;
  • Air quality - which is required to meet statutory EU standards and needs to take into account the combined effects of both airport operations and the adjacent road network;
  • Surface water, drainage and land contamination – often issues that need careful consideration at airports where run-off is accelerated by large areas of concrete, and aviation fuel and de-icing fluid are high risk contaminants;
  • Landscape and ecology - with particular attention being required to designated sites; and
  • Historic and cultural assets - including archaeology.

In terms of aircraft noise, the National Aviation Policy for Ireland 2015 is committed to:

“implement a ‘Balanced Approach’ to noise management at Irish airports in accordance with Regulation (EC) No.598 of 2014 on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at Union airports”.

The LAP will therefore need to consider approaches to:

  1. Minimise the adverse impact of noise without placing unreasonable restrictions on development and;
  2. Avoid future conflicts between the community and the operation of the airport. In this regard there are two noise zones identified in the Fingal Development Plan, an Outer Zone within which it is policy to control inappropriate development, and an Inner Zone within which new provisions for residential development and other noise sensitive uses is actively resisted.

It is also true that some types of land uses (e.g. low activity uses such as open ground or farmland, car parking, roads/train lines, sewage/water works and other infrastructure and enclosed non-residential property where people do not sleep at night – factories, offices and retail premises), are more compatible with aircraft noise exposure than others which are more sensitive because of their intensity or use at night (e.g. residential dwellings, schools and hospitals). Accordingly, the LAP will need to consider the appropriateness of existing noise policy in this regard.

Climate Change

The EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), to which the Republic of Ireland is a signatory, includes CO2 emissions from aviation. Airlines are required to monitor, report and verify their emissions and can either reduce their own emissions or purchase allowances from other sectors where the options for reducing CO2 emissions are more advanced and can be delivered more quickly.

Dublin Airport participates in the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) scheme, a voluntary scheme developed by ACI Europe. Between 2011 and 2014, Dublin Airport’s footprint decreased by 33% from a baseline of 36,917 tonnes CO2 in 2011 to 27,715 tonnes CO2 in 2014. In 2013, DAA entered into a voluntary agreement with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) which includes commitments to develop and maintain a structured energy management programme, and work to deliver energy reductions. Dublin Airport began the process of applying for the ISO 50001 Energy Management Certification in 2015.

Increasing the number of Air Transport Movements (ATMs) at Dublin Airport, has the potential to conflict with national commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Mitigation measures should therefore be promoted, and these could potentially take a number of forms:

  • EU ETS – offset any increases in emissions using the trading scheme
  • Phase out fossil fuels – potential use of biofuels and electric vehicles
  • Improve public transport links to and from the airport reducing car-borne access
  • Encourage airlines to use more modern aircraft

Environmental Assessments

The LAP will also be accompanied by a number of environmental assessments which will facilitate the integration of environmental considerations into the Plan, as follows:

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The Planning Authority is legally obliged to carry out a SEA of the Plan. The SEA process, designed to promote sustainable development by incorporating environmental considerations is a separate formal process used to predict and evaluate the likely environmental effects of implementing a proposed plan, and ensuring that such effects can be addressed at the earliest stage of the decision-making process.

Appropriate Assessment (AA)

AA will ensure that policies and objectives contained within the development plan will safeguard natural habitats that are protected by EU designation.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA)

The SFRA will evaluate and quantify flood risk and facilitate a more strategic approach to land use zoning.

Having regard to these environmental issues, we invite you to consider the following questions:

  • What are the key community considerations for the preparation of the Dublin Airport Local Area Plan?
  • What key aspects of the airport’s development need to be considered to protect key aspects of quality of life for residents of, and visitors to, Fingal?
  • What are the key environmental considerations for the preparation of the Dublin Airport Local Area Plan?
  • Are there any positive aspects about the presence of the airport?
  • Have you any additional suggestions on how the airport can better mitigate its impact?