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  • Parachute Activity at Established Airfield Deemed to Require Planning Permission

    A question was put to An Board Pleanala by Kilkenny County Council as to whether the intensification of use of Kilkenny Airfield for sponsored parachute jumping is or is not development and is or is not exempted development.

    There is currently a grassed landing strip measuring approximately 900 m on the site.

    The submission from Kilkenny County Council noted that Kilkenny Airfield was established in the early 1960s and an airfield was first licensed in April 1965. It is the contention of the planning authority that due to the frequency of the parachuting trips and the number of people involved that there is an impact on the surrounding environment in terms of residential amenity, and traffic and that the intensification is affecting the proper planning and sustainable development of the area to such an extent that it can be considered material in planning terms.

    The observers to the assessment drew the attention of the Board to the increase in noise results from skydiving planes climbing at high revs to heights suitable for skydiving and other noise associated with skydiving activities, increased traffic on the cul de sac road.

    The operators contention was that the skydiving activity being conducted by the Irish Skydiving Club Ltd is consistent with Kilkenny Aerodrome’s normal use for aviation sports activities and is not development and does not require the benefit of planning permission. The airport has a well-established 51 year history of hosting air sports and there are no restrictions or limits on the number of aircraft movements. They also argued the airport is licensed by the IAA for take-off and landings and is a pre-1964 development having being established in 1963. It is accurate to say that Kilkenny Airport has facilitated hundreds of thousands of aircraft landings and take offs in its 51 year history.

    The An Board Pleanala Inspector accepted the authorised nature of the airfield and added that:

    “ One does not need planning permission to parachute, or to take off or land a plane, what is required is development to facilitate such activities i.e. an airfield/airport/aerodrome. Parachuting is one of a number of activities that an airfield provides for. It is reasonable to expect such a use at an airfield”.
    He further noted that for the intensification of use of Kilkenny Airfield for sponsored parachute jumping to constitute ‘development’ as per the meaning ascribed to it in the Planning & Development Act, it must be determined that a material change in the use of the airfield has occurred. He questioned what exactly would a prospective applicant apply for?

    “The airstrip does not need extending, there are no particular structures required. Planning permission is not required to take off or land an aircraft, permission is not required to jump out of a plane”.
    The Inspector concluded that:-

    “As parachuting is not ‘works’ and as the intensification of the parachuting does not result in a ‘material change in the use’ of the airfield, it cannot be deemed to be ‘development’”.

    He therefore recommended to the Board that the intensification of use of Kilkenny Airfield for sponsored parachute jumping is not development.

    An Bord Pleanála considered that the airfield is an established development which includes occasional use for parachute jumping. However the Board concluded that the significant increase in the frequency of take-off and landing manoeuvres of light aircraft, together with a significant increase in the extent to which such aircraft would be in the immediate vicinity of the aerodrome as a result of the increase in the use of the airfield for sponsored parachute jumping, constitutes an intensification of use. This intensification involves a material increase in the noise impacts and disturbance experienced by nearby residents of properties in the vicinity. These impacts would not have been anticipated at the time that the use as an aerodrome was established.

    Therefore, An Bord Pleanala decided that the intensification of use of Kilkenny Airfield for sponsored parachute jumping constitutes a material change of use which is development and is not exempted development at Kilkenny Airfield.

    In deciding not to accept the Inspector’s recommendation the Board noted that the increased use of the aerodrome for parachute jumping was not development, but, notwithstanding the established use of the site as an aerodrome, that there are material consequences for proper planning and sustainable development of the area related to the introduction of sponsored parachute jumping which has a different pattern of use and intensity compared with the established flying club activities.

    Published on February 25, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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