Tuesday 21 November 2017

Airport has safety fears on business park revamp

Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport

Andrew Hamilton

The Shannon Airport Authority (SAA) has raised serious concerns over the viability of a proposed multi-million euro development at the Westpark Business Centre in Shannon.

In a submission to planners at Clare County Council, the SAA have highlighted potential safety issues with the development of the twin office units - with a combined floor space of almost 160,000 square feet - at the north-eastern corner of the existing West Park centre.

Plans for the development, which could create up to 400 new jobs if given the green light, were lodged with Clare County Council earlier his year and a decision is due from planners this week.

Paul Hennessy, safety compliance and environment manager with the SAA, urged planners at the local authority to seek the views of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) before making a final decision.

In his submission to Clare County Council, Mr Hennessy also stated that the SAA would support the IAA if they discovered that the new development would have a negative impact on the safe navigation of the Shannon Airport by pilots.

Of particular concern to the SAA is the impact that the building will have on the Inner Horizontal Surface also the Transitional Surface of the Aerodrome Obstacle Limitation Surfaces.

The Shannon authority is also concerned that the cranes needed during the construction phase of the new development could have an impact on the safe management of the airport.

Both Irish Water and the Health and Safety Authority made submissions on the planning permission requesting further information and studies - but neither organisation raised specific concerns about the development.

The proposed development will also include a massive multi-story car park, capable of housing 914 cars, which will act as a bridge between the two buildings, as well as an "amenity" building which will be almost 40,000 square foot in size.

This amenity building will include a creche, restaurant and a number of other ancillary spaces including an external play area.

If granted planning permission, the development will increase the overall office space in Westpark by around 20pc and could translate to up to 400 new permanent jobs as well as hundreds more during the construction phase.

It is as yet unclear if the development has been earmarked for the expansion of a company or companies already housed in Westpark or if the twin buildings will be used to attract new outside investment in the business campus.

At present Westpark is home to 46 different international companies which between them employ around 1,800 people.

The proposed development will be built on the site which was originally earmarked for development as an eCAMPUS back in 2002.

The original plans for the site were put forward by Concre Development Company Ltd but the site was the subject of a number of subsequent planning application at Clare County Council and An Bord Pleanála between 2002 and 2008.

If it gets the green light, the new buildings will be built on existing foundations - but the new developments will have a different layout, size and floor plan than any of the previous applications.

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