Monday, 6 April 2009

Saga ends as developer wins go-ahead for helicopter pad

THE developer of Ireland’s tallest building has got the all-clear for a helicopter pad on his farm, ending a long-running planning saga.

An Bord Pleanála’s ruling in favour of the application from O’Flynn Construction boss, Michael O’Flynn, followed an appeal from his brother, Larry, who lives about 260 metres from the proposed development.

Michael O’Flynn applied to Cork County Council last year for permission to develop a 49sq m concrete paved area for use as a helicopter landing area for business activities and the operation of his Rockfield farm, in Kilcrea, near Ovens, west of Cork city.

It granted permission with restrictive conditions, including that:

n the helipad could only be used by an Agusta 109E helicopter;

n the helicopter should be in the sole ownership of the Michael O’Flynn;

n and all flights should be for private use only.

Larry O’Flynn appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála and included points about aircraft noise levels and frequency of flights.

He also submitted a list which recorded 78 flights in to Rockfield Farm over 40 weeks between May 2007 and February 2008.

Michael O’Flynn’s planning consultants, McCutcheon Mulcahy, responded and said certain points in the appeal were "unfounded allegations" and demonstrated that it was "vexatious and lacking in substance or foundation".

They said 78 flights over 10 months — an average of eight flights per month — can reasonably be described as "occasional" use of the proposed helipad.

They said the appeal is "based on the incorrect assumption that the flight path will be directly over the appellant’s house, whereas the aircraft will approach the landing area from the southwest or northeast".

And they said some flights will be related to Michael O’Flynn’s business as a developer, or as the owner of a stud farm.

In his report, An Bord Pleanála inspector Noel MacCann said some of the council’s conditions could not be effectively enforced without permanent on-site monitoring.

Restricting the pad’s use to a specific type of helicopter, and restricting flights for private use only, were "unduly restrictive", he said.

He said the planning consultants’ noise impact study dealt "comprehensively and satisfactorily" with noise issues and the previous pattern of usage "could be deemed to be infrequent and will not create serious injury to the amenities of the area".

The Bord accepted his report to grant permission, for three years, with revised conditions which allows an Agusta 109E, or another helicopter with the same noise characteristics, use the helipad while on private and/or business use associated with Michael O’Flynn’s house and stud farm.

Another condition states that the helicopter landing pad can only be used between 8am and 9pm.

Irish Examiner

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