The safety of helicopter operations at Haulbowline Naval Base will not be curtailed, constrained or affected by the nearby construction of an incinerator, according to the company proposing to build it.
In a statement yesterday, Indaver Ireland said a “rigorous review” undertaken on foot of concerns raised by the Department of Defence had concluded their planned build would not compromise helicopter safety. It said it had consulted “a number of experts” as part of the review.
At an oral hearing into the project last year, the department said the incinerator stack’s proximity to the approach paths of the naval base was “a matter of concern”.
They cited an example of a previous air accident in which a helicopter suffered engine failure after flying through an invisible exhaust plume.
Commandant David Browne of the Irish Air Corps told the hearing that having an incinerator so close to Haulbowline would create “a flight safety hazard to Air Corps helicopter operations”.
In March, An Bord Pleanála announced it had deferred, for the fourth time, a decision on whether to give the €160m incinerator the go-ahead, because it wanted to hear from Indaver how it intended to “comprehensively address all matters relating to the navigation and safety of helicopters using the naval base” including the possible requirement for an exclusion zone. Indaver was given until March 15 to respond.
The request for additional information extended to clarification of possible discrepancies in two appendices supplied by Indaver to the hearing relating to dioxin emissions.
In meeting the board’s deadline yesterday, Indaver said it has submitted “correct copies” of the appendices in question “together with an explanation of how the administrative error occurred”.
However CHASE, the environmental lobby group opposed to the 240,000 tonnes-per-annum incinerator, said Indaver had been engaged with An Bord Pleanála “since August 2012, which is adequate time to submit a comprehensive and correct submission”.
Spokesperson Linda Fitzpatrick said the fact Indaver’s application was “not true enough to be considered by the bord without correction should in our opinion have merited rejection”.
In relation to Indaver’s claims that an incinerator would not impact helicopter safety, Ms Fitzpatrick said the Department of Defence “are the sole expert in matters of strategic importance to Ireland” and that “Indaver and their hired exports have no jurisdiction in this area”.
PDForra, the permanent Defence Forces representative body, which is opposed to the incinerator, re-iterated that safety of members and their families was paramount.
A planning decision was originally due on July 12 2016.
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