Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins, who is a former member of the board at Waterford Airport, has welcomed the news that An Bord Pleanála have granted planning permission for the lengthening and widening of the existing runway, as well as confirming Compulsory Purchase Orders for lands adjacent to the airport, which is based at Killowen, Co Waterford.
In June 2019, the previous Fine Gael-led government made a cabinet decision to support the airports plans for expansion by pledging €5 million in exchequer funding to match €5 million in private funding and €2 million from the combined Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford Local Authorities.
Kilkenny County Council has stated in the past that it supports the development of Waterford Airport as an important regional transport asset and would like to see the return of scheduled passenger services.
The approved development at the airport will involve an extension of the existing 1,433-metre-long runway by 491 metres at its northern end and 363 at its southern end, resulting in a total runway length of 2,287metres and the widening of the existing and extended runway from 30 metres in width to 45 metres in width. It will also include the demolition of two properties, alterations to runway lighting, drainage, runway shoulders, an additional 205 car parking spaces and a number of other associated works.
Speaking in Seanad Eireann this week, Senator Cummins criticised the delays by An Bord Plenala in reaching a decision for what he described as “critical and strategic infrastructure”.
He said “An application was made in July 2020. A decision is due to be issued by An Bord Pleanála in February 2021, we are now in February 2022 and a decision has not yet been issued by An Bord Pleanála. It is wholly unacceptable that such critical and strategic infrastructure would be held up for such a lengthy period. I am slow to criticise the board, and I appreciate that it has been inundated with applications, however this is critical infrastructure and I would ask that a decision be made urgently by An Bord Pleanála to allow the airport board progress with investment plans it has for the airport”.
Speaking following the approval by An Bord Plenala, Senator Cummins said "This is hugely welcome news. Waterford Airport has been restricted in terms of its ability to attract airlines and routes given the limited types of aircraft that could operate from the airport. While they have been exceptionally busy with smaller private aircraft movements, the lengthening and widening of the runway naturally opens up many more possibilities. I look forward to working with management & the board in the time ahead to ensure this project is now realised."
Senator Cummins concluded by saying “I understand all at Waterford Airport are working exceptionally hard to finalise investment plans to undertake these works. Today’s decision by An Bord Plenala is timely and I have no doubt it will bring added impetus to those discussions."
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