“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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  • joeCanuck

    Well we do have the experience to carry out evictions.

  • The__Raven

    Shackleton Barracks will be vacated by the Spring.

    Perhaps if someone is going to be “minded” to “move the airport to a position where it will be fit to go commercial”, they should move it a few miles down the road.

    Sure, it’s already been road-tested, so to speak…

    And before anyone says “sure why would anyone put an airport in a pissant village like that”…don’t forget the existing one is really only sitting on the edge of a larger pissant village. At least the scenery is a little more conducive to lulling some poor tourist into thinking they’ve landed somewhere….”nice”….

  • Doesn’t Ballykelly conflict with the railway line too?

  • The__Raven

    Oh they have lots of conflicts in Ballykelly. I know they are lobbying for a new stop there within the camp – a “loop” of some sort. Like there aren’t enough loopers in the area already. (Don’t mention the statue…)

    Lord only knows how long that will take. The loop, I mean – not the upgrade of Derry City Airport or the removal of said statue.

  • Elvis Parker

    Yes Mark the railway line has traffic lights on it and the trains have to stop to let planes land and take off. That said there are so few trains and so few planes it isnt a problem at present.
    One cant off course get off the train at the airport – that would represent integrated transport planning and we wouldnt want that would we?
    The airport is a white elephant that will never be viable – if only all the money that has been poured into demolishing houses and subsidising a low making concern had been poured into a Dungiven bypass and dualling the road to Castledawson.
    Politcal motives – in this case pandering to Irish nationalism – always abad basis for decsion making

  • BonarLaw

    Elvis Parker

    here, here.

    If you take the train you leave Belfast “Central” at 0850 and arrive in Londonderry at 1105 (if you are lucky)- a grand total of 2hours and 15 minutes. I can drive from Holywood and park the car where I need to be on the Cityside in under 1 3/4 hours despite the traffic bottle neck at Dungiven and the single carraige way that links NIs’ two proper cities (sorry Lisburn). If the City Council was serious about improving its’ links to the outside world I would suggest the rates subsidy currently going down the drain that is Derry City Airport could be put to beter use by NIR or DRD.

  • The “loop” at Ballykelly [The__Raven @ 11:53 PM] is an essential upgrade to allow bi-directional working on the line to Waterside (which is BonarLaw @ 10:30 AM‘s point, too). The last time I looked, it was in the NIR budget for some £10M, but a lower priority.

    We’ve been through this topic a couple of times in recent months. As sure as taxes, contributions will divide into two opposed camps. It will be Belfasters, Jaguar-drivers and ultra-Unionists who deplore any development outside the G’n’T golf-course belt, versus an enlightened group who see Eglinton as part of a serious long-term programme for developing the North-West. Not, of course, that I am being partial here.

    As for Eglinton, I see these Ryanair figures for September ’07/September ’06 traffic at LDY:

    Glasgow 1083/1266 = -183
    Prestwick 4882/0 = +4882
    Liverpool 6774/6765 = +9
    East Midlands 5785/5196 = +589
    Stansted 12557/13352 = -795
    Dublin 2428/2719 = -291

    And before anyone jumps in screaming, remember that takes into account the loss of the morning flight to Stansted. By comparison, the figures for

    BFS/GLA were down -630 and for
    BHD/GLA down -3231 over the same period.

    This is part of what seems to be a general softening of demand between BHD/BFS and GB destinations. (Surely, that cannot entirely be the effects of the Paisley family being otherwise occupied: is it down to less military traffic?)

    That all suggests EGY is providing a significant service.

  • BonarLaw

    Malcolm Redfellow

    develop the North West by all means but in a fight for funding I wonder what should have priority- road, rail or LDY?

  • Turgon

    I am not sure if I fit into the Belfasters, Jaguar drivers or the ultra unionists. I am likely soon to be leaving Belfast and my car is far from a Jag (I suppose maybe I am an ultra unionist). However, I must disagree with you here.

    If there was a proper train between Londonderry and Belfast which took say 90 minutes (hardly that difficult surely) let alone say a direct line taking maybe an hour (after all there are things called tunnels to get around the Sperrins) then people could easily get to Aldergrove from Londonderry. That of course leaves aside the other huge advantages of a proper train service. In actual fact even the current train line if upgraded could get people from Londonderry to Aldergrove in an hour. Also I thought in general trains were considered more environmentally friendly that planes. A proper train line is much less effective at enhancing the prestige of Londonderry though it would be much more effective in most other terms than an airport; and I suspect the prestige is a major driving force.

  • BonarLaw @ 12:19 PM:

    Of course, you are quite right to wonder about priorities: that’s why NIR have always been back of the queue. It is equally an observable truth that, for a quarter-century, road-planning, indeed all transport policy, was predicated to military logistics.

    So let’s compare apples and oranges, to get a sense of proportion:

    LDY/Eglinton had (last year) a development programme costed at some £18M. The UK and RoI Governments were, jointly, committed to underwriting £14M of that.

    That commitment is in Peter Robinson’s/Conor Murphy’s budget, and now costed at £14.3M (though the way it has been presented ignores that half of that money comes from Dublin, and that the NI tranche has already been allocated by Westminster, so is a “given”).

    Now for the citrus side of the equation:

    “We will also invest £612million over the three years to 2011 in our road network. This will result in a significant increase in the size of the motorway/dual carriageway network, reduce journey times and improve access to urban centres and regions in the north.”

    The Minister [Conor Murphy] said this investment will allow for the opening of the M1/Westlink and M2 upgrades in 2009, the dualling of the A4 from Dungannon to Ballygawley and, the opening of the A1 Beech Hill to Cloghogue in 2010, which will complete dualling of the main route from Belfast to Dublin. In addition, Roads Service will be able to progress work on a number of other strategic road improvement schemes including: A6 dualling Randalstown/M22 – Castledawson; A2 dualling from Maydown to City of Derry Airport; A2 Widening at Greenisland; A5 Derry to Aughnacloy; A6 Derry to Dungiven; and A8 Belfast to Larne.

    “The allocations will increase funding for roads structural maintenance to around £200million…

    That all suggests to me that the £7M or so from the NI budget to LDY comes cost-free: if it’s not spent, presumably the UK Exchequer does not rebate it. It isn’t in competition with other, far larger, demands.

    And, yes, the £137M for NIR (which anticipates, but does not comprise the whole £64M for the Coleraine-Derry line) and £45M for buses should be welcomed.

  • ah yes, the subsidisation of LDY, not least with PSO money on the Dublin route.

    As for the 10m for the Ballykelly loop, I read elsewhere that installing the loop requires a substantial signalling upgrade, thus the high cost. Transfarce weren’t allowed spend any money on this line beyond Coleraine except to fence it in until recently.

  • Mark Dowling @ 01:16 PM:

    It needs hard work to maintain that Public Service Obligation money (i.e. EU funds, via the RoI Exchequer, to Loganair, which is a Scottish company), represents the “not least” way of underwriting Eglinton.

    Moreover, that subvention runs only to the present year. If Mr Dowling, or anyone else, wants to start an airline and compete, the forms of application for the last round are still on line.

    As for the Derry rail-link, the signalling improvements are long overdue, not specific to any Ballykelly loop, necessary to upgrading the service, if not essential for public safety. There has been a significant increase in use in recent years: up 16.6% to just over one million last year and by 34% since 2001/2002.

    As a marker of how rail (even NIR’s use of diesel) is “green” can be evidenced by the success of the Portadown line, taking the equivalent of 1,000 cars off the M1 during morning and evening peaks.

  • feismother

    I’ve lived in the Derry area all my life and haven’t been on the train in 30 years. The Goldliner bus provides and excellent service to Belfast and the privately-owned Airporter runs to Aldergrove and City.

    I don’t have a problem with City of Derry Airport but I do have with Ryanair. I’ve got offspring both working and at university in England. 15kg baggage allowance isn’t much good to a student so they fly Easyjet to Stansted or BMI to Heathrow. Eldest (working) is trying out the Aer Lingus route from Heathrow to Aldergrove on her next visit home.

  • aquifer

    “I would suggest the rates subsidy currently going down the drain that is Derry City Airport could be put to better use by NIR or DRD.”

    There could be a simple sum to do to kick off the analyis:

    Divide the number of motorists queued up at Toome, Sandyknowles, etc by the lack of express train services, times their average delay, by the LDY airport passenger numbers times the time it would take them to get to Belfast International (at Antrim) assuming an express train is available to the airport as well as the current express buses.

    Divide the cost of the express train link by the total cost of keeping the LDY airport. (costing the pollution as well)

    If the top ratio is bigger, it would have suggested investing in faster train services and closing the Derry airport.

    But given that they have already decided to upgrade the rail line anyhow, just close the airport. The only remaining question is how many trains and how fast?

    How numb are your bums drivers?

  • aquifer @ 10:23 PM:
    just close the airport … How numb are your bums drivers?

    See! It didn’t take long to prove my point (see posting 7 above):
    As sure as taxes, contributions will divide into two opposed camps. It will be Belfasters, Jaguar-drivers and ultra-Unionists who deplore any development outside the G’n’T golf-course belt, versus an enlightened group who see Eglinton as part of a serious long-term programme for developing the North-West.

  • I’m trying to be positive here.

    I’m trying to comprehend the neo-Luddite attitude to air transport. For example: aquifer @ 10:23 PM invites us to cost the pollution of Eglinton; but subtly implies that road transport, diesel trains, and air-traffic (including that hypothetically re-routed from EGL) through BFS/BHD are somehow pollution-free.

    Now, Belfast to Derry is some 70 miles, say a couple of hours, by most means of regular transport. Let’s apply a similar radius to any other part of the UK or populated western Europe. Is there a similar hinterland with just the one focal airport?

    Since I know the SE of England best, I put my mind to the operating or potential airports within a similar stretch from my present desk in North London. I listed sixteen (with a bit of a stretch, I admit): Alconbury; Biggin Hill; Cambridge; Cliffe; Farnborough; Gatwick; Heathrow; London City ; Luton; Lydd; Manston; Norwich; Shoreham; Southampton; Southend; Stansted.

    The immediate result of closing Eglinton would be to deny the North-West a local airport. It would obviously increase even faster the traffic through BFS, and have a knock-on effect for BHD (now, there‘s a good neighbour!)

    Doubtless, in such an eventuality, in the not too distant future, Carrickfinn (CFN) would have to be upgraded to fulfil local needs and charter flights: I see that flights to Rotterdam are intended for this summer. Benisons to Carrickfinn for improving customer choice; but would the loss of an airport at EGL be a positive move for the North-West or for the NI economy and consumer?