26/02/2003

Concerns raised over City flights proposal

Two Unionist representatives have met with City Airport management to raise community concerns over reports that BMI's is proposing that flights be permitted after the current 9.30pm threshold.

East Belfast MLA Sir Reg Empey and Cllr Jim Rodgers said that the local community, which had up to now been "very tolerant of airport operations despite considerable disturbance", would find any proposal to extend flying hours "totally intolerable".

Airport management stated that no application had yet been made to alter the existing Planning Agreement, and it was up to BMI to prepare a business case and put it to the airport authorities.

Sir Reg and Jim Rodgers said that BMI was "flying a kite" to see what reaction there would be to such a proposal.

Sir Reg added: “I am not against the airport, and indeed recognised it as a good local employer, but it was not fair to extend its operations at the expense of local people.”

Cllr Rodgers added that the Sydenham area was a closely knit community which was a popular place to live. He said that he was "determined" to ensure that this remained the position.

Environment Minister Angela Smith is expected to meet a Unionist delegation next month on the issue.

(GMcG)

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