Speaking in advance of the debate, North Down Alliance MLA Stephen Farry stated: “This motion is not about pushing for a particular outcome, nor is it about holding up developments arbitrarily. Rather it is about recognising the wider economic and environmental issues relating to the proposed runway extension at the City Airport and ensuring that they are properly analysed in an open and transparent forum.
“Planning changes to airports around the world are far from simple matters. Just look at the debate around a third runway for Heathrow. The extension to the runway at Belfast City Airport is much more than simply laying a few hundred metres of concrete.
“There needs to be a proper strategic report to the development of airports in Northern Ireland. 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.
“I personally retain an open mind on the eventual outcome of this process, but I look forward to a properly structured debate that looks at all of the issues and can ensure the balanced economic development of the Northern Ireland region. Anyone who cares for both the economy and the environment here should expect no less.”