More than one flight breached night curfew at Belfast City Airport every day during May
MORE than one flight breached a night time curfew every day at Belfast City Airport in May, figures released in the assembly revealed.
In response to a question from Green Party leader and North Down MLA Steven Agnew, Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said that a total of 47 flights either left or arrived at the airport after a 9.30pm curfew.
Mr Hazzard said 37 flights landed at, and 10 flights departed from, George Best Belfast City Airport after 9.30pm during May 2016.
Statistics for June are not yet available.
The reasons for the late flights in May included technical issues, air traffic control restrictions and radar problems, crew shortages, aircraft swops, slot availability, bad weather and an ill passenger.
Ross Brown, a Green Party councillor in east Belfast, described the latest figures as "unacceptable" and said the situation was "getting worse" for almost 8,500 people affected by the higher noise levels.
"I have been in touch with many local householders who have told me that their sleep is being disrupted by the high noise levels. This leaves them, and their children, tired and stressed," he said.
"For years the planning service has failed to enforce the 9.30pm curfew in the airport's planning agreement.
"The European Court of Justice has ruled that ordinary technical problems that cause flight disruption should not be considered extraordinary."
A spokesman for the City Airport said that the airport imposes "a strict financial penalty" on airlines which breach the curfew, in place between 9.30pm and 6.30am.
The exact level of fines are unclear, but in 2009 it was reported that airlines would pay £50 for flights between 9.45pm and 10pm, rising to £600 for flights after 11pm.
"Within the planning agreement, with which the airport is fully compliant, provisions are made for aircraft to depart from, or arrive at, George Best Belfast City Airport until 23.59 under exceptional circumstances."
The spokesman added: "The fines imposed on airlines for breaching these rules are added to the airport’s Community Fund which, to date, has invested over £250,000 into local projects and initiatives which significantly enhance social interaction, environmental awareness and education."