| 14.3°C Dublin

Windfarm green light to cost struggling airport €500,000

A REGIONAL airport will have to fork out almost €500,000 to adjust its landing technology after An Bord Pleanala gave the green light for a nearby windfarm.

The decision could lead to further losses at cash-strapped Kerry Airport, which has been struggling following the loss of a key route.

An ad hoc meeting of the board of directors to discuss the implications of the decision heard it would have a "negative impact on the airport's operations", the Irish Independent has learned.

The application by Tralee-based company, Saorgus Energy Ltd, to build a 28-turbine windfarm at Glanowen and Glanawaddra, Cordal, Co Kerry had previously been refused by Kerry County Council.

But this decision was subsequently overturned by An Bord Pleanala, which granted conditional planning permission for the development.

Kerry Airport did not object to the proposed development at Cordal, about 16km from Kerry Airport in Farranfore.

However, its board made "detailed submissions" on its concerns to Kerry County Council in the initial planning stages, which, it said, had been taken on board and the local authority had ruled in its favour by refusing the application.The main concerns of the airport related to the height and density of the turbines in the proposed development.

Losses

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which represented the interests of Kerry Airport in the planning process, confirmed to the Irish Independent that the windfarm could impact on normal commercial flights if the landing technology at the airport remains the same.

This means the airport would have to adjust the technology it uses to guide planes as they make their descent onto the runway. Aviation experts say the costs of this could exceed €400,000, which would be borne by the airport.

Chairman of Kerry Airport, Denis Cregan said it was now considering the impact of the decision by An Bord Pleanala in relation to the height and density of the turbines.

"The planning permission, as granted, is currently being appraised by international consultants and on the basis of that report we will be in a better position to inform ourselves of the impact that this would have," Mr Cregan said.

Kerry Airport recorded operational losses of €159,840 last year, citing the decision by Ryanair to pull out of its public service obligation (PSO) contract on the Kerry-Dublin route as a contributory factor.

Irish Independent