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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Homes pulled down for runway
Large country house
One of the 17 houses to be demolished if runway is extended

Seventeen houses in Londonderry are to be demolished after the city council voted to extend the runway at the city's airport.

The low-cost airline Ryanair, had threatened to withdraw its services at Derry City Airport if the 400-metre extension had not been given the go-ahead.

Derry councillors said there was no alternative and voted to press ahead with the extension at a meeting on Thursday night.

But residents of Donnybrewar Road in Eglinton said they did not believe the council had fully considered all the options and are to challenge the decision.

Residents staged a protest at the Guildhall in Londonderry on Thursday night against the plan.

They said up to 60 people could be forced out of their homes and their way of life ruined.

Plans to extend the runway at the area have been approved

A statement issued by Ryanair on Friday said it welcomed the decision.

"Without lengthening the runway to accommodate Ryanair's Boeing 737 800 aircraft, the service to London would be lost within 12 months as Ryanair moves to an all 737 800 fleet and cannot land on the existing runway.

"Derry City Council's decision on future development of the airport will help secure this vital link to London."

However residents' spokesman Kieran O'Brien said the council had kept them in the dark.

"It seems a closed shop as far as the council's concerned," he said.

"Their minds were made up months ago. They're not listening to any arguments.

"They've put forward proposals to suit themselves and our views haven't been taken on board."

One resident said: "They are taking part of my farm - it's going to leave my farm unviable."

Another said: "They don't care about the country people."

More than 200,000 people used the airport last year - 60% of that business on Ryanair flights.

BBC NI's Colette Maguire reports:
"Residents said they did not believe the council had fully considered all the options"

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