Three legal challenges to Dublin Airport's €320m runway have been thrown out

A High Court judge ‘sympathised’ with one group of concerned locals but dismissed their claim.

By Aodhan O'Faolain

THE HIGH COURT has thrown out three legal challenges against plans for a new, €320 million runway at Dublin Airport.

In what were lengthy and detailed judgments, Justice Max Barrett dismissed actions that arose over the proposed development of a 3,110-metre runway.

The second runway had been deemed vital by parties – including airport authority DAA – for proposals to turn the capital’s airport into an international hub.

The cases have been adjourned to allow the various parties to consider the decisions. It is not known if an appeal will be taken against any of the rulings.

The first of the three cases was brought by St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group against DAA.

The residents claimed certain pre-construction works carried out in December of last year on the proposed new runway by DAA amounted to unauthorised development.

The development was carried out in breach of a condition of the planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála in 2007 allowing DAA to construct the runway, they claimed.

They claimed a required waste management plan was not submitted to the local authority, Fingal County Council, until February 2017 after the residents’ solicitors had raised the matter.

In his ruling, Judge Barrett  said “laws matter, rules matter, but mistakes happen” and in this case he was not exercising the court’s discretion to find in favour of the residents.

DAA had argued that no unauthorised development had occurred.

‘Fighting spirit’

The second action was brought by 22 individual residents – most with addresses at Kilreesk Lane, St Margaret’s in Co Dublin – who alleged the development was illegal and that Fingal council failed to consider or address their concerns about its effect on their homes and lands.

The judge said he respected the fighting spirit of the residents in this case and again “sympathised” with them in the predicament they found themselves in. However, the court was satisfied to dismiss their action.

That case was against Fingal County Council and the state, with DAA as a notice party, which rejected the claims.

The judge said he was also dismissing a claim by Cork-based environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment. However, the court said it did accept that there is a constitutional right to an environment, as contended for by the group.

The environmental group’s action was brought on numerous grounds, including the claim that the decision to grant planning permission was not in compliance with various EU directives and was unlawful.

The group also argued that the proposed runway would result in additional greenhouse gas emissions which would increase the pace of climate change.

That case was also brought against Fingal County Council and the state, with DAA as a notice party, which again rejected the claims.

Following the judgments, the cases were adjourned for a week to allow all the parties to consider the court’s decisions.

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