Planning permission may be granted for proposals necessary for the improvement of strategic transportation facilities such as regional ports and airports.
Due to Northern Ireland's peripheral location in relation to both Great Britain and mainland Europe regional ports and airports have an important role to play in providing adequate transportation links for local industry and commerce.
Permission will normally be granted for development considered necessary to maintain current operational requirements or for appropriate improvements to or expansion of existing facilities. Development which is related to and dependent on siting adjacent to a port or airport will normally be considered acceptable unless it would result in an unacceptable loss of safety or amenity for adjacent communities.
Development at regional ports or airports which is not automatically permitted, by Classes 13-15 of the General Development Order, will normally be granted permission provided:
- it is necessary for the current operational requirements of the facility;
- it forms part of a scheme for the improvement to or for an appropriate level of expansion of the existing facility;
- the proposal is for development which is clearly related to and dependent on siting adjacent to the facility. General industrial or warehousing development is unlikely to be permitted adjacent to airports which are located in rural areas;
- the proposal would not result in an unacceptable reduction in the amenity of adjoining residents or businesses as a result of noise, dust, smell, pollution or excessive traffic generation;
- in relation to port development the proposal would not lead to an unacceptable impact on coastal ecology or processes; and
- the proposal would not result in an unacceptable impact on any area, feature or species of nature conservation importance or feature of archaeological or historic interest.
In the preparation of development plans adequate land will be zoned for the known requirements of the facility including acceptable proposals for expansion.
Careful consideration will be given to proposals for development in the vicinity of regional airports and ports. In particular attention will be given to:
- Public safety. Within public safety zones adjacent to airport runways, which will normally be identified in the relevant development plan, the Department's policy is to prevent development which would significantly increase the population working, living or congregating in the area;
- Aircraft safety. The Department will consult with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or the airport operators about proposals for developments, the heights of which would exceed the various specified limits within the safeguarded area (defined by the CAA) around the airport. This is to ensure that precision instrument approaches are not adversely affected and that airport flights are not endangered;
- Public amenity. Ports and airports by nature can give rise to problems of noise, dust and smell as well as leading to substantial levels of vehicular traffic on the adjacent road networks. In general the Department will wish to be satisfied that proposals for expansion or improvement will not lead to an unacceptable loss of amenity for adjacent residents or businesses. Particular attention will be given to likely noise levels, especially at night time; and
- Proposals for new development adjacent to existing airport or port facilities. These will not normally be permitted where they would seriously jeopardise the potential improvement or expansion of the facility.