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Inspectors' concern over theme park's €8m coaster

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Tayto Park near Ashbourne

Tayto Park near Ashbourne

Tayto Park near Ashbourne

INSPECTORS have voiced "strong concern" over plans to build Europe's second largest roller coaster at Tayto Park.

The popular wildlife park in Ashbourne, Co Meath plans to open the estimated €8.5m attraction next May - but the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said it was concerned that the roller coaster would be built "within sight and hearing of animals".

In its annual inspection, the State body also warned that due to insufficient barriers, there was a danger that adults and children could be attacked by a type of large bird at the park known as a rhea.

It noted that electrical boxes must be covered to protect members of the public, and also complained that food preparation areas had not been in keeping with a "higher hygienic standard".

Inspectors also noted that several of the animal enclosures were waterlogged, adding that drainage needed to be addressed, including drainage pipes and in planning for new enclosures.

They also stated that many enclosures needed more cover and shelter from the public and from other species.

The body said more "climbing opportunities" were needed for tree-climbing species and goats, and suggested that a solitary squirrel monkey at the park be re-homed or integrated with another group of monkeys.

A spokeswoman from Tayto Park said it had installed a sound and visual barrier around the location of the roller coaster, and have also increased its distance from animals.

She said internal research had found there is "no correlation between effects of visual and auditory stimuli from additional attractions on the behaviour" of its animals.

The spokeswoman added that the other major issues outlined in the inspection had also since been resolved.

It is not the first time the park, which received 450,000 visitors last year, has come under fire from inspectors.

Earlier this year, Tayto Park announced a €25m expansion, which included the wooden roller coaster, tipped to be 1.4 km long, and 32 metres at its highest point with top speeds of 105 km/hr.

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