Planning Portal

Control of Development in Airport Public Safety Zones

Published on Thu, 5 Oct 2006
New Planning Guidelines for Airport Safety Zones
Environment Minister, David Cairns, has launched a consultation on revised guidelines restricting development in Airport Public Safety Zones here.
This coincides with the publication of revised Public Safety Zones at the George Best Belfast City and Belfast International Airports by the Department for Transport. These use a new methodology introduced in 2002 and which is being rolled out at major airports across the UK and will replace the existing safety zones at these airports on completion of the current consultation exercise.
David Cairns said: "The reason for establishing safety zones is to control the number of people on the ground in the vicinity of airports at risk of death or injury in the event of an aircraft accident on take-off or landing.
"Although the risk to people on the ground as a result of an aircraft accident remains low compared with many other risks we face in our daily lives, it is necessary to ensure that appropriate precautionary measures are put in place for areas close to the ends of busier runways.
"This can be achieved primarily by restricting new development. The basic objective is that there should be no increase in the number of people living, working or congregating in these areas and that, over time, the number should be reduced as circumstances allow."
The Minister pointed out that the new planning guidelines, which introduce a strong presumption against new or replacement development, or changes of use of existing buildings within the revised Public Safety Zones, would help bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.
In line with normal practice for a policy statement of this nature it has been issued in draft form for a period of 4 months to allow for public comment prior to finalisation. However, because this relates to public safety combined with concerns about the possible risks to people, David Cairns has put the new planning guidance into immediate effect.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Secretary of State for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for civil aviation safety throughout the UK while land use planning is devolved in Northern Ireland to the DOE. The Department for Transport (DfT) maintains a policy to control activity and development within Public Safety Zones close to the ends of airport runways. The basic policy objective governing the restriction on development near civil airports is that there should be no increase in the number of people living, working or congregating in Public Safety Zones and that, over time, the number should be reduced as circumstances allow.
  2. The new planning policy guidelines for PSZs in Northern Ireland are contained in a Consultation Paper entitled 'Control of Development in Airport Public Safety Zones'. This sets out the planning controls which will apply to development within these zones and incorporates policy guidance produced by DfT for implementation throughout the UK by local and regional authorities with powers to control development and to restrict the use of land.
  3. Most existing development within PSZs can remain there, but many types of new development are not permitted. In a few cases where there have been residential, commercial or industrial properties within the higher risk contour adjacent to the ends of a runway, it has been necessary for those properties to be emptied. However, there are no such properties in the case of the Belfast Airports.
  4. Only the largest civil airports throughout the UK have Public Safety Zones The level of risk around less busy airports, like City of Derry and smaller aerodromes does not warrant the introduction of Public Safety Zones but the position is kept under review where traffic levels are increasing.
  5. Consultation on the new Public Safety Zones proposed for the George Best Belfast City and Belfast International Airports and the associated planning guidelines on control of new development within PSZs will take place over a four month period.
  6. The consultation papers can be accessed on this  website and copies can also be obtained from Planning Service Headquarters, Millennium House, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, BELFAST, BT2 7BN.
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