Plan to reduce noise impact of CUH helipad

Plan to reduce noise impact of CUH helipad
Irish Aer Corps Westland Augusta helicopter lifts off from Bishopstown GAA pitch after transferring a patient to an emergency ambulance for transfer to Cork University Hospital earlier this year. Pic; Larry Cummins

NOISE control measures have been proposed for the new helipad on the grounds of Cork University Hospital to reduce the impact of helicopter noise on nearby houses, it has been revealed.

The planning application for the new helipad shows that the new helipad will be constructed on the staff car park at the north east corner of the hospital grounds.

Map showing the planned flight path for helicopters landing at the planned helipad at the Cork University Hospital.
Map showing the planned flight path for helicopters landing at the planned helipad at the Cork University Hospital.

The helipad is to be linked with the hospitals’ Emergency Department via a partially enclosed walkway which will include lift and stair access.

Almost 200 helicopter transfers took place between Bishopstown GAA Pitch, Cork Airport, and CUH in the last three years. CUH has been without a helipad for more than a decade.

The planning documents on display in City Hall, claim that the proposed helipad is an essential piece of infrastructure that will have the potential to save lives.

The planning documents, submitted by Atkins, however, acknowledge that “some level of disturbance is unavoidable” with helicopters landing on the site.

The downdraft and noise from helicopter operations has been studied, according to the planning application, to assess its impact on adjacent properties such as the CUH Radiation Oncology building and neighbouring residential areas along north and east boundaries.

An experiment in December 2016, found that a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, often used to transport emergency cases to hospital, can create up to around 95 decibels of noise.

Map showing the location of the helipad on the north east corner of the CUH campus.
Map showing the location of the helipad on the north east corner of the CUH campus.

While pain begins at 125 decibels, regular sustained exposure of around 95 decibels may result in permanent damage.

Acoustic barriers, with the potential of reducing decibel levels by 20, have been proposed for the site near the boundary separating the residents from the hospital to reduce the possibility of disruption and damage.

All flight movements to the proposed helipad would use the ‘Fly neighbourly’ approach, according to the application, to minimise noise disruption to neighbouring residences.

The planning application also revealed that CUH will have a dedicated management team for all helipad operations.

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