The company who carried out night-time aerial survey work over a large section of South Roscommon says it regrets any disturbance it may have caused. However, they could not say for certain whether further flights in the area would not be carried out.
Locals in South Roscommon and East Galway reported hearing a low flying light aircraft in the early hours of Sunday morning, November 22nd. A number of people told the Herald that they were awoken by the sound with some of them expressing surprise and annoyance.
Online flight records show that a Cessna aircraft took off from the East Midlands Airport in Derby, England, at 12 a.m. and arrived in Roscommon over Lough Ree at 1.45 a.m.. Passing over much of the South Roscommon border with Galway, it flew around Ballyforan, Dysart, Taughmaconnell, Creggs, and down as far as Ballydangan, until it left the county at around 3.30 a.m.. People in the Monksland area are also reported to have heard the plane.
It also did a number of flyovers in County Westmeath before returning to the East Midlands Airport shortly after 6 a.m..
The plane was registered to the UK based RVL Group, which specialises in aerial surveys and services. It had previously carried out surveys over Westmeath in early November.
A spokesperson for the Group said it regretted “any disturbance our night flights may have caused”.
“Let me assure you that the flights to which you refer to were carried out in full accordance with all applicable regulations and civil aviation authorities,” the spokesperson said.
“Some of the survey work we undertake for various environment, government agencies, and entities can only be carried out at night for operational and technical reasons. These are often, but not limited to, availability of access to busy airspace.”
The company would not comment on or identify its customers, saying it was commercially confidential.
“The sensors onboard the aircraft collect data in ‘strips’ of varying width depending on the resolution of data required, hence the up and down flying patterns,” the spokesperson said. “These ‘strips’ are then joined together to produce a complete survey of the area being studied. Night-time flights are usually collecting thermal data or LiDAR imagery to be used in constructing 3D models of the terrain, often to calculate changes in flood risk by environmental agencies so they can better plan for flood eventualities.”
He added that as these aircraft conduct survey work on specified areas, it is rare that the same area had to be covered frequently.
“However, return visits may sometimes be necessary to re-capture data or to further investigate issues identified during previous surveys.”
The Herald contacted the developers of the proposed Seven Hill Wind Farm, which is planned, subject to planning permission, for the Taughmaconnell-Dysart area regarding the survey work. They said that they had not carried out any such work and it was unconnected with them.
A spokesperson for the Geological Survey of Ireland also said that its Tellus airborne survey was not operating in the area at the time. The survey was also not carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The Irish Aviation Authority said it was aware of the flight but could not comment on the nature of RVL’s work in Ireland
The Department of Agriculture was also contacted for comment but no response was received.