City airport inquiry delayed by noise pollution report

Image caption, The airport wants to extend the runway by almost 600m

A public inquiry into the proposed runway extension at George Best Belfast City Airport is to be delayed amid a dispute over a noise pollution report submitted by the airport.

The airport wants to extend the north east end of the runway by 590m while retracting 120m from the south west.

Residents are opposed to the extension, fearing it will lead to bigger and noisier planes using the runway.

The airport has said this could create 100 jobs and £120m in tourism revenue.

There have been 1,486 letters of objection and petitions with 499 names and 2,241 letters of support sent to the authorities over the scheme.

In March, the Environment Minister Edwin Poots announced there would be a public inquiry into the plans.

Mr Poots said he had taken the decision in the "interests of everyone concerned".

The Planning Appeals Commision which is running the inquiry said it will not start until it gets more information from the airport about possible noise pollution.

The airport said it wished to see the public inquiry handled in a timely fashion but couldn't comment further at this stage.

The residents' representative, Dr Liz Fawcett said the delay was "entirely avoidable".

"If the airport had put all the correct information about noise on the table at the outset instead of that the Planning Appeals Commision has made quite clear, that the information isn't accurate or comprehensive.

"We need the airport to come clean about the dreadful, devasting impact that this is going to have on residents.

She said it would be a "nightmare" for residents if the extension went ahead.

"Already residents are having to put up with being woken up at 0630 in the morning with flights going on right through until midnight and continual noise that's disrupting their sleep.

"We're going to end up, if we have a runway extension with an international airport."

George Best Belfast City Airport said it needed the extra length so some planes could take on more fuel to fly further.

If the plans go ahead, they will create around seven new destinations from the airport, including Brussels, Frankfurt, Madrid and Munich.

It is unclear when the public inquiry will now begin.

George Best Belfast City Airport said if it is not completed by early next year, it puts their plans back until at least 2012.