The introduction of a controversial £1 (€1.20) toll for dropping off passengers at Belfast International Airport prompted calls today for a Stormont investigation.
From this morning all motorists driving to the airport to drop off or pick up travellers had to stump up for the privilege.
The charge allows them 10 minutes in a new parking zone but those who overstay that period will be subject to clamping, with an £80 (€96.30) release fee.
The airport said the revenue that will be generated, estimated at over £2m (€2.4m) a year, is needed to cover the cost of installing new security measures that are required by official guidelines issued in the wake of the Glasgow Airport bombing.
But the move has been heavily criticised by the Consumer Council, which has branded the charge unfair and unacceptable.
Democratic Unionist Assembly member Jonathan Bell has now called for his colleagues on Stormont’s Environment Committee to investigate the matter.
“This must be investigated and I would ask for the authorities concerned to reconsider,” he said.
“If there are security issues followed by an act of terrorism in Glasgow Airport then by all means make the appropriate arrangements.
“But to impose a £1 (€1.20) charge to do this, I think most right-thinking people will find reprehensible in these times of strained economic hardship for families.”
Mr Bell said there could be serious health and safety implications if motorists start dropping passengers off before the airport to walk the rest of the way.
The Consumer Council has highlighted a potential loophole that could enable motorists to avoid the fee.
It said the long-stay car park at the airport has a little known 10-minute grace period before it starts to charge for parking.