Bord Pleanala has granted permission for a private airfield at Erinagh outside Nenagh after it was turned down by the local authority.
Tipperary County Council had refused permission to Tim and Padraig Hanly of Erinagh, Capparoe, for use of existing field for agriculture and private grass runway 670m long and provision of wind sock. Expanded use of existing agricultural building granted for both agricultural and private light aircraft hangar usage. Construction of gravel roadway from L90704 Dromin to existing agricultural building at Erinagh.
In granting permission, the planning agency went against the recommendations of its own inspector.
Planning permission for the development had been sought on July 17, 2015, but the application drew a considerable number of objections from local representatives as well as residents, Irish Rail and the Rail Safety Commission.
The application was refused by Tipperary County Council on the grounds that it was considered that it was a material contravention of Policy ENV36 as the planning authority was not satisfied that it would not result in unacceptable levels of noise to nearby residential properties, and the planning authority was not satisfied that the proposed emergency procedures were capable of being implemented and so it would be prejudicial to public safety.
That decision was appealed to Bord Pleanala by the Hanlys on a number of grounds, including that the control of aircraft and aerodrome noise was regulated by the Irish Aviation Authority following international guidelines; that the noise from aircraft to be used (Cessna single engine light aircraft) was comparable to other noise sources in the area, such as the railway line and the M7 motorway, but only for short duration periods.
The developers also submitted that the site, and the flight paths, were of sufficient distance from dwelling houses (the nearest being 475 metres from the airfield and 400 metres from the flight path) to ensure minimal impacts, and that there were no specifically sensitive receptors, such as hospitals or schools, in the vicinity.
They also argued that there was no evidence that cattle were disturbed by aircraft noise.
The Hanlys stated that all access for all airfield purposes (including emergency access) will be via the Dromin Lane (L90704) to the north of the site. The level crossing access to the south will only be used for the applicant’s agricultural uses. It was argued that the layout and orientation of the site makes it ideal for safe airfield use.
A report emphasised that the proposal was for private use only, and that four aircraft will be the maximum number on site, with flight usage varying from low in the winter to up to 40 flights per week in the summer.
However, the inspector ruled, that notwithstanding the variation to the Development Plan, the general reasons given for refusal by the planning authority should stand.
The inspector said that with regard to the location of the site within a rural area with a significant number of dwellings within a kilometre of the proposed runway, they considered that the site unsuitable for aviation use. The proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the amenities of this rural area and thus be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, said the inspector in his report.
The inspector also refused permission on the basis that submissions made with the application and appeal, and having regard to the restrictions on the level crossing to the south of the proposed runway, he was not satisfied that the proposed airstrip can be accessed satisfactorily by road for operational and safety purposes, and, therefore the development would be prejudicial to public safety.
However, while the board ruled against the inspector’s recommendations, it placed a number of conditions on granting permission, including use shall be strictly limited to use by private non-commercial single-engine light aircraft; the maximum aircraft movements (arrivals or departures) permitted is 385 per year. A log of aircraft movements shall be maintained and submitted to the planning authority in accordance with arrangements agreed prior to the commencement of development, and at least at six-monthly intervals; noise arising from the proposed development shall be monitored and no aviation fuel shall be kept on site, and no refuelling or access by aviation fuel bowsers shall take place.