AirNav Ireland and Shannon Airport object to 50MW wind farm for site north of Limerick City due to radar station impacts

The site of the proposed Ballycar Green Energy windfarm.

The COMMERCIAL semi-State agency charged with keeping Irish skies safe and the main airport serving the Mid West region are objecting to plans for a new 50-megawatt wind farm three kilometres north of Limerick City.

Limerick firm Ballycar Green Energy currently has plans before An Bord Pleanála for a 12-turbine wind-farm located on a 105-hectare site in the townland of Ballycar, north of Meelick in south east Clare.

To date, An Bord Pleanála has received 74 third party submissions with the bulk opposed to the wind farm.

A planning report lodged with the application states that the proposed wind farm “will directly assist in achieving national targets for energy from renewable energy, from renewable resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production”.

The tip height of the wind-turbines is to be 518 feet and the scheme is facing objections from Shannon Airport and AirNav Ireland due to the wind farm’s proximity to the Woodcock Hill radar station in south east Clare.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Air Nav Ireland provides air traffic management and related services within the 451,000 square kilometres of airspace controlled by Ireland and employs over 200 air traffic controllers in Dublin, Cork, and Shannon, as well as 50 radio officers in Ballygirreen, County Clare, to ensure the safe flow of air traffic.

In an objection against the wind farm, Charlie O’Loughlin, manager of Surveillance M&E Systems at AirNav Ireland, told the appeals board that AirNav objects to the wind farm as the development would result in a reduction in the level of safety in the Shannon and Dublin air traffic control centres, which depend on the Woodcock Hill radar station.

Mr O’Loughlin contends that the proposed wind-farm “would degrade the performance of the Woodcock Hill radar”.

He said that, due to the proximity and scale of the proposed development, there are no implementable mitigation measures on the Woodcock Hill radar itself to eliminate the radar beam deflections, reflections, and shadowing from the proposed turbines.

Mr O’Loughlin claims that the development “would compromise the Woodcock Hill radar’s compliance with EU mandated surveillance performance criteria”.

AirNav Ireland’s objections are supported by Shannon Airport. In a separate objection, the airport’s safety, compliance, and environment manager, Paul Hennessy, told An Bord Pleanála that the airport objects to the wind farm as no mitigation measures can prevent impacts on the Woodcock Hill radar.

In response to the objections, a spokesperson for Ballycar Green Energy said that “the company notes AirNav’s submission and will demonstrate that all safety and operational requirements will be adhered to and will provide technical information to further confirm and support this to An Bord Pleanála and AirNav Ireland”.

It said that the proposal “is designed in compliance with all relevant regulations and guidelines, ensuring minimal environmental impact while maximising energy output”.