Skydiving firm challenges Kilkenny County Council order to stop

Aerodrome used for parachuting since 1965, says Skydive Ireland

Skydive Ireland Ltd has been directed by Kilkenny County Council to cease skydiving operations at its airfield.

Skydive Ireland Ltd has been directed by Kilkenny County Council to cease skydiving operations at its airfield.

 

A company has challenged a notice by Kilkenny County Council directing it to cease skydiving operations at an airfield in the county.

Skydive Ireland Ltd and its director David Byrnes, both of Kilkenny Aerodrome Holdensrath, Kilkenny, instruct customers in performing parachute jumps from aircraft that take off and land at the airfield.

They are challenging a May 22nd decision by the council to issue an enforcement notice requiring the company to cease all sponsored skydiving at the airfield. The notice was issued because the council claims the applicants have breached the planning laws.

In a sworn statement, the applicants reject that claim and contend the council’s claim use of the airfield for skydiving amounts to an intensification of existing use which requires planning permission is unsubstantiated by evidence.

The company and Mr Byrne say no intensification has taken place and skydiving does not require planning permission.

The applicants, represented by Jack Tchrakian, instructed by Robert Emmet Bourke Solicitors, seek various orders including quashing the council’s decision skydiving must cease at the airfield.

They also want the court to stay the council’s exercise of powers in the enforcement notice until the proceedings have been determined.

Counsel told the court the airfield has been a base for skydiving since 1965 and the company acquired the airfield in 2014 after borrowing “a substantial amount of money”.

Extensive dialogue

In advance of that purchase, the applicants sought to clarify the planning situation and made clear in extensive dialogue with the council that skydiving services would form an integral part of what the airfield was bought for, it is claimed.

The council informed them in 2014 the airfield was an authorised development with the effect they had a legitimate expectation the council would not take enforcement proceedings over skydiving services from the airfield, it is claimed.

The facility would not have been bought unless they had such an assurance from the council, they contend.

They claim the council reversed its position and referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála which ruled in early 2015 the skydiving activities constituted development which was not exempted development.

The applicants disagree with the board’s decision and sought to challenge that in the High Court but those proceedings failed as they were not brought within the required time limit of eight weeks.

In November 2016, the board issued a warning notice over the skydiving activities and the council last May issued the enforcement notice.

In their High Court challenge, the applicants claim the council’s decision is unlawful and is in breach of their legitimate expectation they would be allowed operate skydiving services from the airfield and of their constitutional rights to lawful enjoyment of their property.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan granted the ex parte application (one side only represented) for leave to bring the challenge and returned it to October. The stay application was adjourned to next week.