Kilkenny skydiving company launches High Court action

A company which teaches skydiving has today launched a High Court action over an order by Kilkenny County Council that the firm ceases operations.

The action has been brought by Skydive Ireland Ltd and its director Mr David Byrnes both of Kilkenny Aerodrome Holdensrath, Kilkenny.

The company instructs and allows its customer perform parachute jumps from aircraft that take off and land at the airfield.

The proceedings arise out of a decision by Kilkenny Co Council on May 22 last to issue an enforcement notice requiring the company to cease all sponsored skydiving at the airfield.

The enforcement notice was issued because the Council claims the applicants have breached the planning laws.

In a sworn statement to the court the applicants reject this claim.

They argue the Council's claim that the use of the airfield for skydiving amounts to an intensification of an existing use which requires planning permission is unsubstantiated by evidence.

The company and Mr Byrne say no intensification has taken place and that skydiving in an activity exempt from requiring planning permission.

The applicants r seek various orders including one quashing the Council's decision that skydiving must cease at the airfield.

They also seek a stay on the Council being allowed exercise any of the powers contained in the enforcement notice until the proceedings have been determined.

Counsel Jack Tchrakian Bl told the court the airfield has been a base for skydiving since 1965.

The company acquired the airfield in 2014.

In advance of that purchase the applicants sought to clarify the planning situation with the local authority.

The applicants say they made it clear in extensive dialogue with the Council that skydiving services would form an integral part of operations.

The applicants say the Council informed them in 2014 the airfield was an authorised development.

As a result the applicants said they had a legitimate expectation the Council would not take any enforcement proceedings against them over the provision of skydiving services from the airfield.

The facility would not have been bought unless that had such an assurance from the Council, the applicants claim.

The applicants claim the Council reversed its position and referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála.

The Bord ruled in early 2015 the skydiving activities did constitute development and it was not exempted development.

Mr Byrne and the company say the Council's decision is unlawful, has breached their legitimate expectation that they would be allowed operate skydiving services from the airfield.

They also claim the decision breach their constitutional rights to a lawful enjoyment of their property.

Permission to bring the action was granted on an ex-parte basis, by Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan.

The case will come back before the court in October.

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