PLANNING permission for the permanent use of a site at Tullassa, Ennis for clay shooting hasbeen denied. The planning application had also sought additional recreational use, including archery, golf driving and compact sport clay shooting.
Local residents claimed that the noise from the site is unbearable, said that they have to leave their homes when shoots are happening, in a series of objections they made to Clare County Council.
Describing the area in question, the Clare County Council planning report stated, “The subject site is located in the townland of Tullassa, approximately 3km north-west of Ennis town. The site is a greenfield site accessed by a dense network of narrow local roads with poor vertical and horizontal alignment and with sections with restricted forward visibility. The roadway serving the site is narrow (2.5m) and there is no space for two cars passing. Sections of the road have deep drains on either side, with no margin to pull in, in the event of meeting another vehicle. The surrounding area is characterised by dispersed rural housing and agricultural buildings.”
The report said that there are no statutory guidance documents on clay shooting noise in the Republic of Ireland but that it had consulted a UK document on the matter from the British Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
‘Strong adverse response’
It stated that a report from the council’s environment section found that “On May 6 and on September 3, 2017 a shooting noise level of >64 dB A was measured at all noise-sensitive locations. It was concluded that Tullassa shooting range was likely to generate strong adverse response from the residents nearby. It was concluded that the response was more likely under prevailing south-westerly winds or when elevated levels of shooting activity occur and when the more westerly shooting sheds were used.”
In relation to a report provided on behalf of the applicant, the council found “there is no evidence provided that the recommended measures put forward will reduce the shooting noise levels significantly”.
Thirteen submissions were made, most of them objecting to the application and many citing the noise coming from the facility.
One of the submissions came from Ruairi Breen, who wrote that he wished to object “in the strongest possible terms”.
He claimed that the facility is causing much distress for people in the area. “I live in Ballyknock, Kilnamona, a peaceful place. My home is situated in the middle of our farm and is approximately 0.75km from the N85 to the north and Tullassa Shooting Range is circa 1km to the south. The noise from this shooting range has had a serious effect on
the amenity and the quality of life has been seriously diminished.
“Having started with little activity at the outset, it soon became apparent that the facility began to allow shooting outside of the permitted times, with little regard to disturbance to local families.
“The volume of noise emanating from the site causes great disturbance and distress. In August of 2016, the locals got together and sent a complaint to the county council. From our perspective, it would seem that Clare County Council have yet to respond in a positive fashion to this letter.”
A letter from MP and JJ Sayers of Gortmore, Ennis, painted a picture of serious disturbance being caused to locals.
“Since planning was grantedin 2014, we have been subjected to loud, continuous and repeated gun shots from this facility every weekend and also for a period of seven days a week, until Clare County Council withdrew permission due to the number of complaints received. The noise levels are consistently exceeding the recommended maximum daytime levels by the World Health Organisation and the EPA at 55 decibels. We are exposed to high levels of noise, week in week out, for hours on end without an yprotection. This unwanted and disturbing sound is interfering with our normal activities and sense of enjoyment of our home, garden and surroundings. We feel our quality of life has diminished
It claimed that the applicant is well aware of the problem he is creating but won’t do anything
about it. “We urge Clare County Council to give our observation serious consideration and refuse planning permission, due to the unsuitable location of this facility in a residential area for the reasons outlined above. He continuously breaks the conditions of his planning, with excessive noise levels every weekend. He has refused to adhere to warning letters and has made no effort to reduce the noise levels, despite Clare County Council engaging with him on a continuous basis over this issue,” the letter claimed.
PJ and Marie Fitzpatrick also made a strongly-worded objection, claiming the shooting range has had a huge impact on their lives. “We live in the first house on the road past the shooting range and less than 250m from this range. For the last four years, the situation in the area with regard to the shooting range has gone from bad to worse to now
being unbearable. We have lost complete enjoyment of our garden, which we love. We can’t bring our granddaughter out for a walk or even outside during the shooting. We can’t even stay in our house and have to leave the area when there is a shoot, which is happening every weekend.”
Not just a business
In a handwritten letter submitted by Mr Haren, he sought to dismiss some of the objections, while he also claimed that he has not ignored planning conditions placed upon him.
“To say that I haven’t applied my planning conditions is both unjust and unfair because I have gone above and beyond my means at Tullassa Range to the detriment and sacrifice of my business as it stands. I’ve resorted to having to operate just one of my four sheds and got rid of my professional shooting club. Now I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth, doing all that has been demanded of me.”
His letter made reference to a troubled early life, made difficult by people in Tullassa, before hunting helped him turn things around.
“Luckily, a kind neighbour saved me from these ‘people’ and introduced me to hunting. I embraced the outdoor sport with a passion and it’s what helped me turn my life around. It has fuelled me to help others to do the same and, better still, prevent many more from making the same mistakes I did in the first place.”
He claimed the value of his work was not being appreciated. “I am deeply saddened to see the few local individuals that are against me simply fail to see all the good that I have to offer at Tullassa Range. Not only is this an ever-growing and much-loved country pursuit (both locally and internationally), it has been so obvious to me the positive effects being at Tullassa Range has on
my club members’ mental health.
“This is not just a business to me. This is my passion and my life and I kindly ask that you proceed to approve me full planning permission for Tullassa Range and for the people and businesses in Clare, that, in turn, it helps serve.”
The county council refused to grant planning permission and cited two reasons for doing so. In regard to noise, it said, “The planning authority considers that the proposed development, notwithstanding the proposed noise mitigation measures, would result in unacceptable levels of noise nuisance and disturbance for residents in the vicinity of the site. The proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the residential amenities of the area and depreciate the value of property in the vicinity, and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
It also found that the local roads infrastructure is not up to scratch. “The site is accessed by a network of narrow, local roads with poor vertical and horizontal alignment and with sections with restricted forward visibility. The planning authority considers any intensification of use that would arise from the permanent use of the facility would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard because of the additional traffic movements, which would be generated.”