This from Treacy Hogan in the Irish Indo':
'Horrified' Ballydoyle trainer readies his big guns for battle
AIDAN O'Brien's world famous Ballydoyle horse stables could close if plans for a controversial animal-waste plant next door get the green light.
The Irish Independent has learned that the racehorse trainer believes he could not continue with the training operation, recognised as Europe's leading such facility.
In an exclusive interview, his wife Anne-Marie O'Brien said yesterday: "Ballydoyle could cease to be a racing stables."
The proposal to build a plant capable of processing 250,000 tonnes of animal waste containing potentially BSE-infected material has ignited a battle near Rosegreen, Co Tipperary.
South Tipperary County Council received the planning application last week and will make a decision after the March 2 objection deadline.
It is certain the decision will be appealed one way or the other to An Bord Pleanala.
It's a battle of the big guns: millionaire John Magnier's Coolmore Stud and Aidan O'Brien's adjoining stables at Ballydoyle, against a consortium which includes a subsidiary of National Toll Roads, the owners of the Westlink toll bridge, and Dawn Meats.
Both sides have engaged the services of two of the biggest public relations companies in the country, Murray Consultants, acting for Coolmore and Ballydoyle, and Drury Communications, for the plant consortium.
At the centre of the consortium is the Ronan family, which operated the National Byproducts rendering plant on the site at Castleblake for 40 years and where the new waste plant is planned.
Local people complained for years about the devastating effect of the smells from the rendering plant on their lives, until it closed down.
National Byproducts was named in an annual report by the Environmental Protection Agency as the plant provoking the third highest number of complaints in the country, mainly related to smells.
The consortium, called Green Organics Energy (GOE), has just applied to South Tipperary Co Council for permission to build the biggest animal waste plant in the country. They want to turn animal carcases from all over the country into biofuel and fertiliser.
A plan to build an incinerator on the site was rejected two years ago.
On that occasion, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who had close links with Aidan O'Brien, said he would sever connections with the area if the incinerator went ahead and sent a letter of support to Coolmore in their battle.
The O'Briens are to join John Magnier's Coolmore in lodging formal objections in the next fortnight.
Anne-Marie O'Brien said yesterday the location of the plant in a rural Golden Vale area was "completely wrong".
Ballydoyle was competing on a world stage and, according to its environmental impact report, the plant would be emitting chemicals that could have a harmful effect on their horses.
"The biggest single factor in racehorses not doing well is respiratory problems. We even have air-filtration systems in every stable. Horses are very sensitive to any change in air quality," she added.
"This plant will be emitting sulphur dioxide and other nitrous substances. It is unthinkable. Horses would not be able to compete.
"Ballydoyle could cease to be a racing stable.
"It is a world-class facility, an elite athletic training facility, and they are proposing to build the largest waste facility in the country beside it."
Mrs O'Brien complained that, among the materials which would be brought to the plant by road, would be specified risk material (SRM) from potentially BSE-infected cattle. Her husband Aidan was "totally horrified" at the prospect of having such a facility beside Ballydoyle.
"Anybody who looks at this will know that it just should not go ahead," she said.
Marie-Therese Mulcahy, a trainee solicitor whose family farm is only 500 metres from the proposed plant, is incensed at the prospect.
"The original plant closed down two to three years ago. It generated awful smells. We frequently couldn't go out or hang clothes on the line. I feel very strongly about having trucks bringing animal waste to a new plant."
Opponents have formed an action group, South Tipperary for Clean Industry, which also plans to lodge an objection with the council.
Leading environmental consultant Jack O'Sullivan claimed local people could not rely on the current air and water quality continuing if the plant went ahead. Because of the possibility of BSE material being included, there was always a risk of accidents.
GOE insists that the plant will be built to the highest international standards, on a site which has traditionally been used for industrial purposes, and use state-of-the art technology.
Their process was aimed at generating products and energy from products that were currently being incinerated.