Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Opposition to Belfast City Airport extension plans

Sadly I missed a ‘Spotlight’ special on BBC1 last night about the proposed extension to Belfast City Airport’s runway (I was at a family party for my Grandmother’s 80th Birthday, I’ll have to watch it on the BBC iPlayer) but it is clearly an issue that is gaining momentum as time goes on with 1,700 objections already officially lodged.

I and Alex Maskey met with representatives of the ‘Belfast City Airport Watch’ Group early last year. They put forward the social, economic and environmental arguments against this plan capably and informatively. Since then we have highlighted our opposition to the extension in literature distributed throughout South and East Belfast; as well as this both I and Vincent Parker (SF’s rep in the Balmoral area) spoke at a meeting held by the group in Ballynafeigh and highlighted our support for a public inquiry into the extension.

Sinn Féin, as well as other political figures, has expressed our support for an immediate public inquiry for a number of social, economic, environmental and strategic reasons. As well as this the Belfast based airline Flybe has expressed their opposition to the extension so too has Belfast City Council.

What is interesting about this fact is that the environment Minister Sammy Wilson is himself a Councillor in East Belfast. The logic would be that he too is opposed to the extension. This is certainly worth investigating in the time ahead.

In my own opinion the demands for this extension, primarily coming from Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, indicates nothing more than his insatiable capitalist greed. He is motivated by this and this alone, he clearly has no concern for the detrimental impact this extension will have on the people of Belfast and beyond.

As a resident of the Short Strand, just down the road from the airport, I can empathise completely with the call for an inquiry into this planned extension, I do not believe it will be beneficial to the people of Béal Feirste.

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