Dublin Airport expansion, Ireland

Pollution and noise from Dublin Airport operations and construction work has exacted a heavy toll on nearby communities. Expansion, including a new runway, is imminent and will make nearby homes uninhabitable and many households have moved away.


Several residents groups objected to Dublin Airport’s expansion plans on the grounds that more flights would mean greater levels of air and noise pollution, stress on local infrastructure and increased traffic in the area. Portmarnock Community Association (PCA) established the UPROAR (United Portmarnock Residents Opposing Another Runway) community group in 2004 which picketed hearings conducted in 2006 by An Bord Pleanála, an independent statutory established to operate an open and impartial planning system. UPROAR members were dismayed by An Bord Pleanála’s 2007 decision to give the go-ahead to a new terminal and runway.[1] Townlands affected by the planned new runway include Pickardstown, Millhead, Kilreesk and St. Margaret’s. In 2016 about 40 households were eligible for relocation grants as their homes would become uninhabitable due to close proximity to the new runway. Other residents were offered help from a sound insulation scheme which would reduce aircraft noise.[2]

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Basic Data
NameDublin Airport expansion, Ireland
SitePickardstown, Millhead, Kilreesk and St. Margaret’s (Fingal County Council)
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA new runway at Dublin Airport has been planned since the late 1960s. A planning application was submitted in 2005 and a new runway 3,110 meters in length located 1.6 kilometers north of the existing runway, running parallel alongside it, was approved in 2007. The 261 hectare site has been in Dublin Airport’s land bank for over 40 years.[5] The runway project was mothballed during the recession but in April 2016 DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) announced that the US$371 million development would be going ahead.[2] In October 2018 the main contract for construction of the new runway was awarded to an Irish-Spanish joint venture, comprising Irish firm Roadbridge and Spanish infrastructure firm FCC Construccion. The contract includes construction of 306 square meters of runways and taxiways, 6 kilometers of internal airport roads, new drainage and pollution controls, 7.5 kilometers of electric cable and more than 2,000 runway and taxiway lights. Construction is set to commence immediately and due for completion by early 2021.[10]

The new runway is part of a bigger expansion programme, with a budget of an additional US$1 billion which includes new piers and aircraft stands at the northern and southern sides of the airport. Scheduled for completion in 2023 the expansion, taking the total number of aircraft stands from 112 to 147, will enable Dublin Airport to increase its passenger capacity to 40 million annually.[9] In January 2018 the European Investment Bank (EIB) was preparing a loan for Dublin Airport, a sum of US$419 million to cover about 50 per cent of the cost of ‘improvements’ including rehabilitation of runways, new aircraft parking stands, construction of a parallel taxiway, landside office space and improvements to terminal buildings.[11] The EIB loan for upgrade of Dublin Airport’s infrastructure was agreed on 12th April 2018.[12]
Project Area (in hectares)261
Level of Investment (in USD)1,371,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesRoadbridge from Ireland - Awarded contract for construction of new runway and other works in joint venture with FCC Construccion
FCC Construccion from Spain - Awarded contract for construction of new runway and other works in joint venture with Roadbridge
Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) from Ireland - Owner and operator of Dublin Airport
Relevant government actorsFingal Country Council

An Bord Pleanála

Department of Transport
International and Financial Institutions European Investment Bank (EIB) - US$419 million loan for Dublin Airport 'improvements' agreed in April 2018
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersUPROAR (United Portmarnock Residents Opposing Another Runway)

Friends of the Irish Environment https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/

Portmarnock Community Association (PCA)

St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
OtherPollutants emitted by aircraft - black soot and fumes
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
OtherHealth problems caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft

Health problems caused by aircraft noise
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Dublin Airport expansion including a new runway has proceeded in spite of opposition from residents. Households were only compensated for loss of their homes, not for loss of land and livelihood. Conditions attached to planning permission for the new runway that would have mitigated noise and pollution impacts on neighbouring communities may be overturned.
Sources and Materials

[6] Dublin Airport €320 million runway causes local uproar, agriland.ie, 12 July 2018
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[1] Local objectors dismayed by decision, The Irish Times, 30 August 2007
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[2] Silence reigns as new Dublin airport runway plans emerge, The Irish Times, 9 April 2016
[click to view]

[3] Dublin Airport to face legal action from locals over new runway, DublinLive, 1 March
[click to view]

[4] A lawsuit to stop the expansion of Dublin Airport was rejected by the High Court, Irish Environment, 1 February 2018
[click to view]

[5] Farming under Dublin airport's new flight path 'the buildings vibrate and it's impossible to hear anyone talk', Independent.ie, 17 March 2018
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[7] DAA adds €10m public fund to €320m runway bill, Irish Examiner, 31 October 2018
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[8] Noise regulation Bill could pave way for new runway at Dublin Airport, The Irish Times, 30 October 2018
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[9] Major expansion planned for Dublin Airport, The Irish Times, 7 September 2018
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[10] Irish firm awarded joint venture for construction of runway at Dublin Airport, Irish Examiner, 30 October 2018
[click to view]

[11] EIB prepares loan for Dublin, Jane’s Airport 360, 9 January 2018
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[12] EIB agrees EUR 5.8 billion investment in energy efficiency, social infrastructure and local businesses, European Investment Bank, 12 April 2018
[click to view]

Media Links

UPROAR – Part 1, Local residents air their views on planned construction of a new runway at Dublin Airport, norunway, 20 May 2007
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UPROAR – Part 2, norunway, 21 May 2007
[click to view]

Other Documents

Farming next to Dublin Airport Farmers and property owners protested against new Dublin Airport runway. Source: Eamon Ward
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Dublin Airport new runway Artists rendering of the USD372 million, 3,110 meter, new north runway
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Plane flying low over St Margaret’s Townlands affected by new runway include Pickardstown, Millhead, Kilreesk and St Magaret’s
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Farmers impacted by new flight path Farmer Jim Scully and 21 other families brought judicial review over new runway plans. Source: Independent.ie
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2007 protest against new runway UPROAR, a community group opposed construction of a new Dublin Airport runway. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorRose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update28/11/2018