“Removal of the variation is essential to permit unrestricted use of the airport’s main runway..”

Indicators of yet more potential problems ahead for City of Derry Airport are revealed in a Belfast Telegraph report today. Having been granted the power to vest land around the airport by the Regional Development minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, the Derry City Council’s Airport Committee met today in private to consider a report on the preparations for securing that land for the airport’s use.. and to clear the CAA’s current variation on the airport’s licence. From the Belfast Telegraph report

Councillors were today set to discuss the “forcible eviction” of residents at Donneybrewer. They have been told to make sure vested properties are vacant by March 1, so they can be demolished as part of a safety works programme at the council-owned airport. According to a report seen by this newspaper, it is believed some residents will not leave by the required date, and ” therefore it is necessary for council to take steps to enforce the vesting order”.

It’s all part of the process of “moving the airport into a position where it will be fit to go commercial..”More from the Belfast Telegraph

The report by the town clerk and chief executive, which was due to be discussed behind closed doors today, said it was essential that the council had vacant possession of the land from that date, and that discussions have taken place with enforcement officers in case there is a need to physically remove residents.

The report said that “the houses included in the vested area are obstacles requiring a variation on the airport’s licence”.

It added: “The variation will be reviewed again in October 2008. The works programme to clear these obstructions will take four months to complete and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will take up to three months to assess the impact of the works and remove the variation. Removal of the variation is essential to permit unrestricted use of the airport’s main runway.”

The report said that officers have had a meeting with the Chief Enforcement Officer of the Enforcement of Judgments Office in connection with this, adding that “whilst he has indicated that he wished to take legal advice on this process he has assured officers that the first step in enforcement is the issue of the warrant by Council. Thereafter the procedure as stated by the Enforcement of Judgments Officer is that enforcement officers will visit all the people with former interests in the land and make arrangements for vacant possession forthwith. If there is resistance the Enforcement of Judgments officers are empowered to enter by force and remove by force.”

The document went on: “Once the warrant issues the only involvement of Council is liaison as regards scheduling of evictions and securing the property post eviction.

“The Chief Enforcement Officer has stated that it is unlikely that all cases could be dealt with on the same day. However, subject to him taking his own legal advice – and receiving the warrant from Council – he has provisionally instructed his team to diarise possible evictions from the beginning of April.”

The report sought authority to “issue appropriate documentation to the Northern Ireland Court Service to enable enforcement of the Vesting Order.”.

And there’s a quote from the Council

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said today: “Matters of legal, financial and commercial sensitivities are of necessity dealt with in confidential business, following which, when appropriate, Council always endeavours to make public decisions regarding City of Derry Airport.”

As I’ve already said, it’s all part of the process of “moving the airport into a position where it will be fit to go commercial..”

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