Northern Ireland

Belfast City Airport: Residents criticise council over planning changes

George Best Belfast City Airport
Image caption George Best Belfast City Airport is proposing to replace the seat sales cap with noise controls

A residents' organisation has criticised Belfast City Council for backing a bid by Belfast City Airport to change its planning agreement.

Belfast City Airport Watch, giving evidence at a public inquiry, said it was "deeply disappointed and perplexed" by the council's stance.

The airport wants a restriction removed on the number of departure seats it can sell in a year, currently capped at 2m.

Residents' groups claim if approved it will create a busier, noisier airport.

A lawyer for the council responded to criticism stating: "It [the council position] has been through a political process.

"The council is in favour of a balanced expansion with conditions attached to protect residents."

George Best Belfast City Airport is proposing to replace the cap with noise controls.

The inquiry is being heard at the Planning Appeals Commission in Belfast.

A final decision will rest with the Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, who is not bound by any recommendation the inquiry commissioner makes in due course.

Several people who live under the flight path gave evidence on the third day of the hearing.

Dominica McGowan, from Ballynafeigh in Belfast, said: "I expect my house value to drop if this goes ahead. I am very anxious and concerned."

She was applauded by other opponents when she said she was "really disappointed" by political parties.

A resident from Holywood, County Down, told the hearing: "I am passionately committed to economic development but there is plenty of space for expansion at Belfast International Airport. This does not make sense."

The inquiry is scheduled to last until Thursday.