Published on July 30th, 2019 | by Mark Dwyer


New Modified Planning Agreement for George Best Belfast City Airport

The Department for Infrastructure Northern Ireland has signed a new Modified Planning Agreement with George Best Belfast City Airport which will control operations at the Airport with immediate effect.

This Agreement endorses the recommendations of the Planning Appeals Commission independent report of the public inquiry. It establishes a more effective noise management system at the Airport and removes the Seats for Sale restriction. This should achieve a better balance between the socio-economic benefits of airport expansion and the need to protect the environment and quality of life for the surrounding community.

The Airport will be required to submit an Annual Performance Report by 31st March each year to the Department detailing the Airport’s compliance with all obligations and restrictions within the Agreement. If there has been any non-compliance or there is a risk of non-compliance of the noise control contour within the incoming years, the Airport shall agree actions with the Department to rectify the situation.

The Modified Planning Agreement removes the seats for sale restriction and introduces the following new measures for controlling noise at the Airport:

  • A noise control contour – the area experiencing an average equivalent daytime noise of 57dB shall not exceed 5.2 km when measured over the summer period (being the airport’s busiest period);
  • A quota count system operating in tandem with the noise control contour– this is a noise categorisation scheme which classifies each aircraft movement with a quota count.  Over the summer period, the sum of the quota counts cannot exceed the overall Quota as specified in the Agreement.
  • A departure noise limit will be introduced on all flights with levies payable to the Community Fund when this is exceeded (the Community Fund is administered by the Airport and supports community events and initiatives)
  • A penalty system for late flights have been introduced into the Agreement with fines increased compared with the previous voluntary scheme operated by the Airport
  • Adoption of a continuous approach descent approach for all landing aircraft to contain the noise from landing.
  • Availability and use of fixed electrical ground power at all aircraft stands to reduce ground noise from aircraft
  • The establishment of a Noise Insulation Scheme offering funding for sound insulation to residential and noise sensitive properties experiencing an average equivalent daily daytime noise level of 63dB.

Commenting on the agreement Belfast City Airport Watch said: “We would like to extend a cautious welcome for the new modified Planning Agreement.

“On a first reading, the document would appear to meet key recommendations made by the Planning Appeals Commission at the conclusion of the public inquiry on this matter.

Ryanair closed their base at Belfast City Airport in 2010 due to the restrictions operating at the airport.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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