The operator of Dublin Airport has successfully challenged a demand by Fingal County Council for a planning contribution of over €5 million for an extension of aircraft parking facilities at the airport.
An Bord Pleanála ruled the council had incorrectly applied its own scheme for seeking development contributions when it sought almost €5.03 million from DAA to go towards the provision of public infrastructure.
The board upheld an appeal by DAA against the decision of Fingal County Council to attach the contribution payment as a condition of the grant of planning permission for 12 new aircraft stands at the airport’s north apron.
DAA’s plans also include works to allow for the storage of ground support equipment on a 19.2 hectare site as well as the construction of a 550-metere service road to provide access for services vehicles to the new aircraft stands.
The local authority fixed the size of the contribution at €5,028,035 under the Fingal County Development Contribution Scheme 2021-2025 based on floor area.
However, DAA claimed the contribution scheme was not correctly applied by the council.
It argued that an airport apron provided for the parking, loading, refuelling, boarding and maintenance of aircraft and was directly comparable to car parking in terms of land use.
DAA said it was incorrect for Fingal County Council to consider the apron as building floor space in calculating the size of the development contribution.
It pointed out that there was no specific category for an airport’s apron in the scheme, while the closest category was ancillary parking which is exempt from charges.
In addition, DAA noted that the council had only applied the development contribution to buildings and not ancillary areas when it granted Dublin Port planning permission for Dublin Inland Port – a depot providing storage for empty containers – at Coldwinters in north Dublin.
It warned that any requirement to pay financial contributions on the scale sought by the council would “impact the feasibility of providing key ancillary airport infrastructure”.
Fingal County Council told An Bord Pleanála that it does not make provision for exempting development of the type proposed by DAA from payment of a contribution.
However, an inspector with An Bord Pleanála said the basis for applying a contribution under the scheme operating in Fingal County Council was aggregated floor area in any proposed development.
“This application comprises development which does not include a floor area and therefore the Development Contribution Scheme does not apply,” said the inspector.
However, he said DAA could not rely on comparing the parking of aircraft to cars to escape the implications of the scheme as well as certain exemptions.
An Bord Pleanála directed the council to remove the condition seeking the €5m-plus contribution on the basis it had incorrectly applied the scheme.