Fred Bradley, Principal Officer Department of Defence and Commdt David Browne, Irish Air Corps, returned to the Oral Hearing this morning, 11 May (Day 14) to reiterate beyond any doubt the construction of the proposed incinerator in such close proximity to Haulbowline Naval Base would “create a flight safety hazard to Irish Air Corps helicopter operations” and stated that risk control measures would need to be implemented which would “impact on the Irish Air Corps’ ability to operate helicopters into Haulbowline” concluding that “restrictions on the Irish Air Corps’ ability to operate with the Naval Service at Haulbowline is not just a local issue but carries strategic implications for the State” and coming to the conclusion that “Therefore it is the opinion of the Department of Defence that the avoidance zone of 1,000 ft as originally submitted is very necessary”.
Referring to reports commissioned by Indaver Ireland in response to Department of Defence concerns raised earlier in the hearing, Comdt David Browne criticised the use of Civil Aviation standards by Indaver consultants and said “The Irish Air Corp is a military aviation organisation” and referencing the report prepared by UK Based Wind Farm Consultants, he stated “It is surprising that a Consultant company, considering the previous military experience of the authors of the report, would fail to realise that such civil requirements do not apply to the Irish Air Corps, just as the UK Civil Aviation Authority requirements do not apply to the Royal Navy or RAF aircraft (the two services from which the authors came”.
Commdt David Browne outlined that “as well as cargo-slinging, the Irish Air Corps also operates with the Naval Service and Army at Haulbowline in tasks ranging from marine counter-terrorism (Haulbowline is used as the staging base for counter-terrorism training and operations for the Kindle Gas Fields and commercial shipping into Cork Harbour), air-sea rescue winching, sea-going tests and evaluations of Naval Service vessels for simulated air attack, helicopter training of Naval Service personnel, and so on”.
He gave a detailed outline of the approach direction and low flight altitude required of a helicopter arriving in the general vicinity of the intended landing site, (the Main Square at Haulbowline), and highlighted how the final approach is always performed into the wind concluding “therefore helicopters make approaches in a SSW direction to Haulbowline most of the time, with the plume from the proposed Indaver facility blowing towards Haulbowline, i.e. into the path of a landing/taking off aircraft”.
PDForra representatives Mark Keane and Ray McKenna also spoke on behalf of their 800 members located at Haulbowline Naval base, saying they wanted to re-iterate the Department of Defence position with regard to the “incorrect claim that by Indaver that there was no scenario which would require the evacuation of Haulbowline”, when the HAZID report outlined a scenario where a fire that burned for 6 days would require Local Area Evacuation. Mr McKenna, PFForra National Health & Safety Officer asked “how could anyone working on behalf of Indaver ignore or forget about this?”.
Indaver Solicitor Rory Mulcahy, following a break for consideration, offered that Indaver were willing to “seek to agree a protocol whereby the facility would be shut down were it required for essential [Air Corp] operations”.
The hearing will continue this afternoon and into the week with Emissions and effects on Human Health next on the agenda.