George Best Belfast City Airport: Report recommends tough noise controls
A report recommends tough noise controls at George Best Belfast City Airport in exchange for the controversial removal of a planning restriction.
It follows a public inquiry last year into the airport's bid to remove a cap on the number of seats it can sell each year on departing flights.
It is currently set at two million seats.
The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) report does not object to the move.
However, it recommends a stricter system of noise controls than the City Airport has put forward in its planning application.
The Environment Minister Mark H Durkan wants feedback by next month, before making a decision on the airport's application.
The airport has been attempting to lift the seats cap since 2004.
Residents' groups in the surrounding areas have been opposing the idea, arguing it will mean many more flights and bigger aircraft.
The PAC report states: "We strongly believe while the growth of the airport is desirable from an economic perspective, a balance must be struck with the noise impact."
It adds the controls put forward by the airport "would allow noise levels to affect more people than is presently the case".
A spokesperson for George Best Belfast City Airport said: "We welcome the recommendation by the Planning Appeals Commission to remove the seats for sale limit which has been a long standing barrier to our business.
"We will consider in more detail the findings of the report and will submit our views to the department."