Blow for Tayto Park as noise fears see €14m rollercoaster blocked
An Bord Pleanala has refused planning permission for a €14m steel rollercoaster for Tayto Park as the operation of the ride would be too noisy for nearby residents.
In a hammer blow to expansion plans at Ireland's biggest theme park, the appeals board has refused planning permission for Coaster 2021 in response to objections by four residents.
Meath County Council had given the plan the go-ahead in February.
However, local residents Jeremy Butcher and Suzanne Galwey, along with Donal Greene and Clare Smith, appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala.
In their joint appeal, they claimed the anticipated screaming from passengers on Coaster 2021 would increase noise disturbance in the area.
Their homes are 430 metres to the north of the Tayto Park site and 480 metres to the north-east of the theme park.
In its ruling, the appeals board has refused planning, citing noise impact on the residents as the primary ground for refusal.
In its formal order, the board said it was not satisfied that the rollercoaster "would not seriously injure the amenities of property in the vicinity by reason of noise".
As part of an on-site inspection, an inspector noted the "rattling" and "screaming" sounds from the park's existing Cu Chulainn rollercoaster.
Residents had said the Cu Chulainn produces significant "rattling", accompanied by screaming from those on board every time it is in use, which is every few minutes up to nine hours a day.
The board also said it was not satisfied the development would not be at risk of flooding.
It further said it was not satisfied that Coaster 2021 would not be likely to have a significant adverse effect on the EU protected site, the River Nanny Estuary and Shore Special Protection Area.
Coaster 2021 was to be one metre lower than the park's 32-metre Cu Chulainn rollercoaster and 972 metres long.
The rollercoaster was expected to add 40 full-time and part-time jobs at the park.
The decision represents a major blow to the future prospects of Tayto Park.
Planning documents lodged with the application state that if the Tayto Park operators do not add a major attraction at this time, "the longer term viability of the park would be brought into question".
The documents stated that Coaster 2021 will help projected visitor numbers to Tayto Park - owned by businessman Ray Coyle - increase from 630,000 this year to 725,000 in 2023.
Speaking last November, Mr Coyle said the new rollercoaster would "copper-fasten the future of Tayto Park".
"If you don't create something landmark every three or four years, your numbers will start going down, and that's the road to closure," he said.
A report commissioned by Tayto Park stated last year that the park produced a €32m spend for the economy and supported more than 800 jobs.