Incinerator stalled over helicopter safety concerns

Board concerned about proximity to Haulbowline Naval Base.
Board concerned about proximity to Haulbowline Naval Base.

The issue of helicopter safety is one of the key reasons behind An Bord Pleanála’s decision to defer, for the fourth time, a decision on whether to give the go-ahead to a controversial incinerator in Co Cork.

The planning authority has written to Indaver Ireland, the company proposing to build the €160m facility, seeking further information in relation to helicopter navigation safety on foot of concerns raised by the Department of Defence at an oral hearing into the project last year.

At the time, the department said proximity of the incinerator stack to the approach paths of Haulbowline Naval Base and Spike Island 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.

The board has also requested clarification around possible discrepancies in two appendices relating to dioxin emissions which environmental group Chase claims relate to a 2008 Indaver application for an incinerator at Ringaskiddy, and not to the 2016 proposal.

In relation to helicopter safety, the board wants Indaver to “comprehensively address all matters relating to the navigation and safety of helicopters using the naval base” raised by the department, including the possible requirement for an exclusion zone around the naval base.

Experts for Indaver maintain there is nothing within the rules of the air which would appear to support the assertion that helicopter approaches to the island would be made unsafe as a result of the operation of the chimney.

Indaver has been given eight weeks, until May 15, to respond to the board’s request for additional information. However, after the board has assessed their response, it has the option of inviting the public to respond.

“If so, that would, of course, have an effect on the timelines for the making of a final decision,” a spokesperson for the board said. A decision was originally due on July 12 last year.

Yesterday, Chase said Indaver had been “afforded ample opportunity to respond to concerns raised by the Department of Defence at the oral hearing”.

A statement from Indaver said they would respond to the request for further information by May 15.


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