AIR traffic controllers are calling for the iconic Poolbeg chimneys to be saved, because they are a “perfect” landmark for guiding small aircraft into Dublin.
It emerged earlier this year that the ESB was considering plans that could involve the destruction of the red and white chimneys, which are the highest structures in Dublin.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who was then in charge of the tourism portfolio, had written over the summer to the ESB concerning how they were falling into disrepair.
The response he received from chief executive Pat O’Doherty was that it might not be possible to maintain the towers at Pigeon House.
Mr Varadkar told the Herald in July that he would be “appalled” if the chimneys were torn down.
He said they were “iconic”, a symbol of the city and part of the national heritage.
Now it has emerged that air traffic controllers are also against any move that would involve the towers disappearing form the skyline.
Speaking from the tower at Dublin Airport on RTE’s Sean O’Rourke show yesterday, an unnamed air traffic controller told of how useful the towers were in his work.
“It’s a bit controversial, and we might not be everybody’s friend after this, but they’re actually a fantastic navigation aid,” he said. “They’re painted red and white, and it’s really easy to see that.
“When we have people flying in from the UK in small aeroplanes, 25 or 30 miles away they mightn’t be familiar with Dublin.
“But they can see those two chimneys and we always tell them ‘route to the mouth of the Liffey, the Pigeon House chimneys’, and they’re perfect.
“It’s a massive landmark, and as long as the Pigeon House chimneys have been standing we’ve been sending aeroplanes to that point as a navigation aid.”
The closure of Poolbeg’s oil-burning power plant in 2010 led to concerns about the future of the towers.
Labour councillor Dermot Lacey led a failed campaign to get the chimneys listed as protected structures.
When he responded to Mr Varadkar, Mr O’Doherty said some people saw the chimneys as “a blight on the landscape”.
He added that a decision would be made on what to do at this year’s end.