Wednesday 10 February 2010

Killarney wheel project on horizon

AN observation wheel earmarked for Killarney will offer visitors a bird’s eye view of the scenery in the tourist mecca.

A smaller version of the London Eye and similar to a wheel in Belfast, the promoters hope to have the latest tourist attraction in operation this year, subject to planning permission.

It is expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors per year and to generate €2 million annually for the local economy.

The project is being promoted by Hanovan Ltd, which is working with CHL Consulting, who drafted the tourism section of the 2005 Killarney Master Plan.

Killarney Town Council has been told of the plan which, according to the promoters, will offer a compelling experience to visitors and will be a major addition to existing attractions in a town that draws well over a million visitors each year.

The council will discuss the issue in greater detail later this month.

To be driven by virtually silent electric motors, the wheel is said by the promoters to be ideal for Killarney and will create 14 jobs.

Subject to planning being obtained, the wheel will be located in a town centre car park, possibly in New Street, and will be 40 metres to 50 metres in diameter.

Intended to operate year-round, it will have up to 40 enclosed passenger capsules, each with a capacity of eight people.

Observation wheels have become popular attractions in many countries, with the Great Beijing Wheel among the largest with a 208-metre diameter. The London Eye has a 135-metre diameter.

According to the promoters, such wheels are very costly and require large numbers of visitors at high admission prices to achieve viability.

Hanovan Ltd directors are Tom Hannigan, quantity surveyor and commercial manager, and Ollie O’Donovan, a building and civil engineering contractor in London.

Last year, An Bord Pleanala refused planning permission for an 80-metre viewing tower, which would have been part of a major shopping development at the Malton Hotel, Killarney, on the grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the character of protected structures in the tourist town.

Irish Examiner

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