11/03/2003

Public consultation 'likely' ahead of City night flights plan

An Ulster Unionist delegation has been told by Environment Minister Angela Smith that a public consultation would "most likely" have to take place if an application to introduce night flights is made by Belfast City Airport.

Speaking after a meeting with the Minister yesterday, East Belfast MLA Sir Reg Empey said: “Our discussions centred on what should happen if an application is made by the airport.

“The Minister said that while she would have to take legal advice on the matter, it was highly likely that there would have to be a public consultation if a bid for night flights is forthcoming.

He added: “The views of local residents have to be taken into consideration and we presented the Minister with responses our party has received from numerous members of the community detailing their opposition to night- time flying at the airport.

North Down MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon added: “We were at pains to point out that the people of the area are not against Belfast City Airport but that a balance has to be struck between a decent standard of living for local people and the rights of air travellers.

“We also asked for clarification on the planning process in relation to potential night time flights.

The delegation also included North Down MLAs Alan McFarland and Sir John Gorman, Belfast City Councillor Jim Rodgers and North Down Councillor Diana Peacocke.

Elsewhere, an UUP delegation has met with shop stewards and full time union officials at Shorts to discuss the company's redundancy plans.

The deputation was made up of Sir Reg Empey, MLA, Cllr Jim Rodgers, Cllr Michael Copeland Deputy Mayor of Castlereagh, and Trevor Ringland, Vice Chairman of East Belfast UU Association,

Sir Reg said: “The UUP is placing an early day motion before the House of Commons and making other representations to ensure that everything will be done to prevent as many job losses as possible.”

(GMcG)

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