DAA seeks dismissal of Ryanair action

THE High Court was yesterday asked to dismiss a challenge by Ryanair to the planning permission for a second terminal at Dublin Airport.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) claims Ryanair’s legal challenge to the permission cannot be permitted because of a settlement reached between the budget airline and the Government in March 2006.

Planning permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála for the second terminal, T2, last August, and Ryanair launched a High Court challenge to the validity of that decision in September.

The DAA says this is contrary to the agreement which led to the withdrawal of previous High Court proceedings taken by the airline against the Taoiseach, the Minister for Transport and the Attorney General over their decision to give the DAA approval to proceed with plans for T2 the in May 2005.

Ryanair says it is entitled to bring a new challenge because the permission granted was not in keeping with the terms of the settlement agreement, which stated the size and cost of T2 should effectively be “capped” and the permission given to the DAA exceeds this.

Paul Sreenan SC, for the DAA, told the court yesterday the terms of that settlement were that Ryanair agreed not to bring further challenges against, “arising out of or connected with” the May 2005 decision by the Government.

Mr Sreenan said a “significant step” in the chronology of events which led to the settlement of that case was a masterplan report in September 2005 by architects Pascall and Watson, which gave a number of options on how the terminal should be built.

Following this report, the DAA submitted its formal planning application to Fingal Council, who granted permission, and this was confirmed last August by An Bord Pleanála. Ryanair participated in all stages of the planning process.

Then in September last, Ryanair launched this latest challenge by way of judicial review.

Ryanair argued that it was not bound by the 2006 settlement with the Government because the permission granted by An Bord Pleanála was not in keeping with the Pascall and Watson report which put the cost of T2 at between €170 million and €200m but which is now estimated at €400m.

Martin Hayden SC for Ryanair said the DAA decided to expand the project to a 75,000sq m facility from 50,000sq m in what has been described by Ryanair as “a gold plated Taj Mahal”, the cost of which would be passed on to airlines.

Ryanair also argued that correspondence between Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and DAA chief executive in the lead-up to the settlement gave a different impression as to what the eventual plan would be.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke has been asked by the DAA to decide whether the planning process for T2 is part of the implementation of the Pascall and Watson masterplan.

He is also being asked to decide whether Ryanair should agree to not bring any further challenges.

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