A TOTAL of 49 objections and submissions have been lodged with North Tipperary County Council over plans for a controversial airfield at Erinagh, Capparoe.
Tipperary Aviation Ltd had lodged plans with the council for the extension and hard surfacing of existing grass aircraft runway to form a tarmac runway 780m long x 18m wide with 50m x 18m tarmac stop-way each end including all drainage, markings and associated works at Erinagh and Capparoe, as well as permission for construction of aircraft hangar, fuel store, hard-surfacing, markings and ancillary works at Erinagh, the use of existing agricultural access from southern end of Dromin cul-de-sac (L90704) for private access to airfield, and construction of gravel roadway from L90704, Dromin to proposed aircraft hangar, Erinagh.
However, last Thursday members of the Capparoe / Dromin Residents Opposed to Erinagh Airfield lodged their community objection to the proposal.
North Tipperary County Council has also received objections and submissions from Inland Fisheries Ireland, Iarnrod Eireann, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Railway Safety Commission and the Irish Aviation Authority.
Among the other objectors are Cllr John Carroll, Cllr Mattie Ryan “Coole” and Cllr John “Rocky” McGrath.
No one from the Capparoe / Dromin residents’ group was available to talk to the Tipperary Star this week, but according to their objection lodged with the council, they have six main grounds for objecting to the proposal.
Among these, they say the application should not go ahead because a High Court action between the council and eight respondents, including Tipperary Aviation Ltd and Tim Hanly is still ongoing. It is understood that this case refers to the unauthorized use of these lands.
The objectors also claim that the application fails to seek retention permission for a range of use and works already carried out.
Another objection relates to previous claims that the airfield has been in continuous use for eight years and the seven-year statute of limitations applied. However, the residents claim that there had been an intensification of use and therefore a material change in use.
The residents also claim that the land is zoned as agriculture since October 1964, and there had never been any permission granted for any other permitted land use.
Other objections relate to noise impact, traffic impact, the impact on agricultural land, and flood impact.
They also claim that the course of the Black Trench River had been realigned and that the existing runway could never have been put in place if the river’s course had not been altered.
The community objection is signed by 716 people.
Inland Fisheries Ireland, in its objection, states that they understand that the ground level of the airstrip was previously raised by approximately one metre and that this is part of the retention application. They state that they believe this was done by importing material to the site and they question the legal standing of this material. They also ask whether a waste permit or other type of permit was required.
The board also makes reference to the fact that it appears the airstrip is on a flood plain that was raised above the normal flood level. They say this work altered watercourses.
Inland Fisheries Ireland also refers to the realignment of the Black Trench River and that a watercourse between that river and the Dromin River was removed.
The IFI says it has no objection to a tarmac runway or to build a hangar and fuel dump, but it does make recommendations on both subjects.
Kane Touhy solicitors, acting for the Rail Safety Commission, say that planning permission had been granted for an agricultural building for livestock use. However, they claim that the shed is being used as a hangar and that no planning permission was granted to use the land as an airfield.
They also refer to the High Court case and state that Tipperary Aviation Ltd is the seventh named defendant in these proceedings.
Furthermore, they state that the Commission is charged with fostering and encouraging rail safety and is concerned about the potential dangers and or interferences with the safe operation of the railway at Erinagh. The objection notes that a level crossing is close to the proposed development.
It also states there are concerns over the ongoing transportation of fuel across the level crossing, which, the objection states, is in clear breach of the use of the level crossing.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and Culture’s submission refers to the alteration of the Dromin River, which flows into the Lower Shannon, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and says that there is the possibility of a negative effect on water quality of, or species, of the SAC.
The submission also raises questions about the effect of a tarmac runway on the watercourse and believes appropriate assessment screening is required.
Meanwhile, the Irish Aviation Authority has confirmed to the Tipperary Star that an executive with Skydive Ireland, which operated at the airfield before moving to Birr, had his pilot’s licence suspended for one month in July while allegations that he had engaged in unacceptable flying behaviour over Capparoe, were investigated. It is understood the pilot had his licence returned last week.
Tipperary Aviation Ltd stated this week that the IAA had cleared them of any wrongdoing or involvement in the matter as the company had no control over what happened in the airspace around the airfield. A letter to that effect was issued from the IAA to Tipperary Aviation Ltd.
North Tipperary County Council is to make a decision on the application on September 6th.