May 8th, 2017
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought a judicial review of Fingal County Council’s decision to extend planning permission for the development of a €320 million runway at Dublin Airport.
The environmental group alleges that the council’s Chief Executive was fully aware that the extra runway would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions before granting the five-year extension. According to the group, this runs in contravention of the objectives of the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act.
Thegroup’s affidavit states that the chief executive failed to take into account various climate and emissions related criteria – such as the national mitigation plan – as legally obliged under the 2015 Climate Act before deciding to grant the extension.
The extension was granted by Fingal County Council in March. The original permission for the proposed 3.1km runway, granted in 2007, was due to expire this August.
The project, set to be located less than 2km north of the Airport’s existing main runway, was put on hold during the recession.
According to the FIE, the planned runway is incompatible with targets laid out in the Paris Agreement as the project is based on a scenario of unconstrained aviation growth and travel demand.
Direct emissions from the aviation industry account for about 2 per cent of global emissions, and is projected to be around 70 per cent higher in 2020 compared to 2005 levels, according to the European Commission.
A flight from London to New York and back will generate is estimated to generate roughly the same emissions as the average person EU citizen does from heating their home for a year.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates that by 2050 aviation emissions will have increased by 300% compared to today.
According to an affidavit provided by FIE Director Tony Lowes, the Fingal Chief Executive made a number of “entirely general observations” in relation to the findings of the ICAO in its decision.
The FIE’s challenge points to the recent refusal of planning permission for a third runway at Vienna Airport by the Austrian Federal Administrative Court, citing the negative impact of climate change and the contribution to it by air traffic.
The group also argue that by granting an extension to permission originally made based on an Environmental Impact Statement from 2002, the council has failed to consider new research on climate change over the past 15 years.
“The fact is that the international and national context in respect of climate change has moved on dramatically since the runway was first granted permission, which included a very limited assessment of climate impacts,” the affidavit states.
“Every citizen possesses constitutional and natural rights to bodily integrity, life, water, food, health and an environment consistent with their right to dignity and well-being. Climate change will directly and irrevocably impinge on each and all of those constitutional and natural right.”
Two separate groups of residents set to be affected by the construction of a third runway have also brought legal challenges, which are set to be heard in the Commercial Court in October following an application to the high court by the Dublin Airport Authority.
One group, the St Margaret’s residents, allege that the development is illegal as the council failed to consider the impact of the development on their homes before granting the extension.
Dublin is the fastest growing major airport in Europe, according to Airports Council international Europe, the trade association for European airport operators. In 2016, 25 million passengers passed through Dublin Airport.