Confusion over costing of proposed runway at Dublin Airport

Fingal County Council (FCC) recently issued a statement saying the information supplied by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for their planning application for a new runway was "insufficient and inadequate". This was the second time FCC had to ask the DAA for further information or clarification on future traffic projections they had supplied. The inadequate traffic assessment isn't the only area on which a lack of clarification appears.

Matt Harley, a former Department of Finance worker and economist, who represents UPROAR, a local community group against the runway, says that the DAA has also failed to conduct an adequate cost-benefit analysis. He says they are required to do so under Department of Finance guidelines for the Appraisal of Capital Expenditure Projects. When Village put this to the DAA, they said that they didn't need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for their planning application, and are not yet sure whether they have to under the Department of the Finance Guidelines. The Department of Finance said they do have to, as they are a semi-State body and issued this statement: "In the case of State Companies the Board of each company must satisfy itself annually that the Company is in full compliance with these guidelines." According to Harley, the guidelines stipulate that your appraisal should be done before you apply for planning permission.

In response to a Dáil question on the matter, in June, Martin Cullen, Minister for Transport said: "I am informed by the DAA that all capital projects are subjected to rigorous appraisal procedures and ultimately board approval, in compliance with the guidelines issued by the Department of Finance". UPROAR is particularly concerned with what they say is an incredibly conservative cost estimate for the runway, by the DAA. The DAA say the runway will cost €130 million.

When assessing the cost of the runway, the DAA has valued the land cost at the price of the land when they bought it in the 1970s, not in modern-day terms. Also, it has failed to take into account the loss in land value that will occur in surrounding areas, as it will be under the flight path of the new runway. He says that the real cost under this land and construction cost is €3 billion. With this estimate in mind UPROAR feels the Government must seriously consider building an alternative airport, rather than a new runway.

A further concern UPROAR has in terms of local interests, is that Portmarnock will be part of the Outer Public Safety Zone if the new runway is built. This means it will not be possible to build more schools, churches or a nursing home. In the outer zone you cannot have gatherings of more than 220 people. Harley says: "there is an extraordinary contradiction here, a school cannot be built under a flight path for safety reasons, but a flight path can be put over an existing school." Ryanair has also voiced its objections to the new runway in a letter sent to FCC. The airline says it is unnecessary and ten to 15 years premature.

Harley says that although UPROAR are representing local interests a new airport runway is of a national interest and therefore an adequate independent study needs to be carried out.