Plans to build a helipad at Cork University Hospital have been temporarily grounded after Cork City Council planners sought further information about the development.
Questions have been asked about the noise impact on the residents living adjacent to the hospital, while planners have also sought clarity about the use of the helipad.
A planning application was submitted by the HSE in November 2018.
It outlined plans to build the helipad on the north-east of the hospital campus in a location currently used for staff parking. It followed a lengthy site-selection assessment process and extensive consultation with medical and aviation experts.
To mitigate the loss of the 164 car parking spaces, a new two-storey staff car park was also proposed for the west side of the hospital campus. A new pedestrian bridge over the hospital campus ring road was also planned.
The planned new helipad was designed specifically to cater for the largest search and rescue helicopters operating in the country today, including the S-92 four-blade two-engine aircraft operated on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard.
CUH previously had a helipad but it was closed when the emergency department was redeveloped in 2003. In the case of emergencies since, when helicopters have been scrambled to bring patients to or from the hospital, aircraft have been landing at Cork Airport or the Bishopstown GAA pitch, located just behind the hospital. Patients are then transferred by ambulance to CUH.
Almost 200 helicopter transfers have taken place between Bishopstown GAA pitch or Cork Airport and CUH in the last three years.
Five observations were lodged with Cork City Council during the process, with residents living near CUH raising concerns about safety and noise. One objection noted the recent helicopter crash at the King Power stadium in Leicester which killed five people, including Leicester City football club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Noise concerns were also raised, though the initial plans also included the installation of a two-metre acoustic screening barrier on the northern edge of the helipad close to the nearest homes.
Planners have requested further information on nine grounds.
These include a request for confirmation that the sole purpose of the helipad will be the transfer of 'either critically ill patients or outbound organ transfers'. The HSE has also been asked to 'confirm whether landings/take-offs will take place on a 24hr basis' and anticipated use of the helipad.
Planners are also seeking further information on additional landscaping on the site, as well as detailed specifications of the 'noise mitigation measures to the northern site boundary, eg acoustic barriers.'
They are also seeking clarification on where temporary car parking facilities will be located while work is ongoing, as well as details on a construction and demolition waste management strategy.
No deadline has been set for the submission of the additional information. However, no further consideration will be given to the planning application by Cork City Council until the additional information has been submitted.