THE first commercial seaplane base in Europe is set to be created in Mountshannon following approval for the development by An Bord Pleanála this week.
The development had met with local opposition, with four appeals lodged to An Bord Pleanála following Clare County Council’s decision to grant planning permission earlier this year.
Harbour Air Ireland Ltd, now known as Harbour Flights, was granted permission for the facility at Dooras, Mountshannon to accommodate a seaplane. The base will form part of a network for seaplane services across the country.
Speaking to The Clare Champion hours after receiving confirmation of the planning decision, Emelyn Heaps, chief executive of Harbour Flights, said, “This will be the first commercial seaplane base to have been granted planning, not only in Ireland, but in Europe. Sixty-five years ago, Foynes was renowned across the world for their flying boats, it was the centre of the universe. I would like to think that Harbour Flights will take on that mantle with the seaplane operation.”
He commented that despite some local objections, he hopes the people of Mountshannon will come out with a positive response to the development, which will bring benefits to the locality in terms of employment and tourism.
The planning granted relates to the installation of a floating pontoon, mooring anchors, access gangway, reinforced concrete slipway and inspection hardstanding, workstore, parking area and associated infrastructure for the berthing and inspection of a seaplane at the site.
Mr Heaps said Mountshannon will be just one of a series of locations nationwide operating a service, which will include Foynes, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Dublin.
An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the development with 12 conditions attached. According to the board, the development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity, would not give rise to a traffic hazard, would not be prejudicial to public health and would not have a significant effect on the Lough Derg Special Protection Area.
Among the conditions of planning is that construction works must only take place between August and April. It was also pointed out that no servicing or maintaining of aircraft be carried out on the site and that all areas of shoreline outside of the site be fenced off during construction to prevent unnecessary damage to habitats.
The written permission of Waterways Ireland for the provision of the proposed pontoon must also be obtained and submitted to the planning authority before beginning development.
Appeals were lodged to An Bord Pleanála by two local groups, the Sandycove Residents Association and the Mountshannon Angling Club. Appeals were also lodged by two State bodies, An Taisce and Inland Fisheries Ireland, formerly the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board.