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€2.5 million grant sought for Tubber airport project

18th October 2018

A FUNDING application for an airport in Tubber has been condemned by one member of Offaly County Council.

Cllr Tommy McKeigue said he believed the whole project was “foolish” and noted it had come before the council on the same day councillors had told representatives of the IDA that Offaly was only 40 minutes from the outskirts of Dublin and an hour from the capital city's airport.

Offaly County Council is facilitating an application for a €2.5 million grant from the Urban Regeneration & Development Fund 2018 for preliminary environmental studies for the Tubber airport.

“Is that for real, that you are going to apply for money for an airport?” asked Cllr McKeigue. “Galway Airport closed down and it's a city,” he remarked.

“I don't know who comes up with these ideas.  To me I don't know, but everyone should be looking at the lads in the white coats to take them away,” added the Fine Gael councillor.

There were already airports in Knock, Shannon and Dublin plus one in Cork which “they're struggling with”.

“What in the name of God are we building an airport for? We're a small island,” he said.

The airport project is being advanced by Midlands Airport Developments, a company headed up by Tullamore-based architect Patrick Little, a former president of Tullamore Chamber of Commerce.

He has said over 2,000 jobs could be created if an airport at Tubber gets the go-ahead and approval has already been given for a planning application to An Bord Pleanala.

There could be a further 2,600 people employed in spin-off businesses around the airport, he said.

Mr Little has argued that a Midlands airport is required because of over-capacity in Dublin where the proposed second runway has not been provided.

At Monday's council meeting Cllr Dervill Dolan, Independent, said he could understand the scepticism about the project but he understood a lot of work had been done on it in the Tubber area and Offaly County Council would not be funding it.

Cllr Tony McCormack, Fianna Fail, said he accepted why people would have reservations but believed Dublin had a “serious capacity issue” without a second runway.

Planning approval for the project will have to be granted by An Bord Pleanala because the airport has been deemed a strategic infrastructure development.

The Tubber airport project is one of four from Offaly to the Urban Generation & Development Fund.

Nearly €13.7 million is being sought for the Slieve Bloom mountain bike trails, €13 million for the Tullamore Grand Canal Harbour project and €8.7 million for street enhancement, an 'urban greenway' and the arts centre in Tullamore.

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