Council in row with Navy over gunfire

A row has broken out between a town council and the Naval Service over noise pollution from a firing range.

Cobh Town Council is writing to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding it monitor what the local authority claims is “unacceptably high noise levels” coming from the Naval Service’s firing range at Haulbowline.

Councillors supported the motion by Cllr Sean O’Connor (Ind) who said he had received a number of complaints from people in the area and had personally heard the gunfire.

“I’m living on the eastern side of Cobh and am further away than a lot of people who say they can’t open their windows, but for the noise,” Cllr O’Connor said.

In 2010, he said, the town council had written to the Naval Service on the same topic and had received assurances a screen would be erected to reduce noise impact. The Naval Service also planted trees around the site to reduce the noise.

Cllr O’Connor said the measures had not worked. He said the town council was asking the EPA to make unannounced trips to monitor noise at the base.

A spokeswoman for the department said following complaints an independent audit of noise from the range was carried out on behalf of Cork County Council by the Environment Department in 2010.

She said the Naval Service requested a copy of the report but did not receive one.

“Prior to this audit, a noise assessment (study) was carried out in White Point car park, Norwood Court, in front of the garda station and on the naval pier in 2009,” she said.

The noise levels sampled while firing was under way, she said, had been “found to be substantially below the threshold” of regulations and posed no risk to local people’s hearing.

The range is used periodically between 9am and 4.30pm on weekdays and occasionally on weekends “if operationally required”.

“This is outside the times that are generally considered to cause annoyance between 7pm and 7am, when people are generally relaxing or sleeping. The Naval Service do not use the pistol range during the months of May and June while the Junior and Leaving Cert examinations are in progress,” the spokeswoman said.

She said members of the Naval Service had to be proficient in the training, operation, maintenance, safety and firing of weapons. She said the service had intended to undertake further mitigation measures, but due to reduced resources these plans were put on hold.


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