Stephen Farry MLA stated: “This is the only sustainable way forward for the Minister and the Department of the Environment in considering this application. It reflects the unanimous view of the Assembly which backed an Alliance motion last February calling for such an inquiry.
“The proposed runway extension is more than simply adding a few hundred metres of concrete. It has much more profound economic and environmental implications. Planning changes to airports are far from simple matters, as the debate around a third runway at Heathrow illustrates.
“Belfast City Airport is a key element within the local economy, but it is also sensitively located beside residential area. A public inquiry is the only transparent means to properly air and test all of the economic and environmental arguments. The Alliance Party remains open to the result of any such process.
“Questions need to be asked about whether we need much more runway capacity than what is offered at present, given the potential environmental implications. We must have a proper assessment of the net economic benefits for Northern Ireland. Competition issues need to be considered in light of the all-island context. It is worth noting that not all of the airlines using the City Airport support the runway extension and the potential change to the character of the airport.”