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Saturday 17 March 2018

Tensions ripple as seaplane takes flight

Gordon Deegan

The director of a company behind plans to locate a seaplane at a well-known lake said yesterday that he'd like to think he "had won over the hearts and minds" of locals.

Ronan Connolly, of Harbour Air Ltd, was speaking after 10 test flights for the new service where locals were brought up into the air to get a bird's eye view of Lough Derg in Co Clare.

The company is planning to locate its base for a new seaplane service on the famous lough.

As part of the plan, the company has lodged three applications before local authorities in Galway and Clare to allow it land a seaplane in Lough Derg, Galway city docks and the main harbour serving Inis Mor.

But the Clare component is attracting opposition from fishermen and locals, and the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board is also objecting to the plan.

Yesterday, Mr Connolly said: "The locals all want it and I believe that the opposition to it is from a close-knit group of people.

"It was very positive today with locals helping out and the people will have seen that what we're planning is nothing like the threatening service as claimed in the fishermen's objections."

Fine Gael councillor Pat Burke was one of the locals brought up on the plane yesterday. He said: "It is now time for the fishermen and the company to sit down together and reach a compromise."

Mr Burke said that business people from Mountshannon have finally come out in favour of the planned seaplane service.

Another Fine Gael councillor, Joe Cooney, said: "I thought there would be more noise from the plane and I would hope that both sides in the dispute can now reach a compromise."

Mr Connolly said Harbour Air hoped to submit the further information required by Clare County Council on its planning application within the next three weeks.

A decision is expected on the plan during the summer.

Irish Independent

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