HORSETRAINER Aidan O'Brien has claimed his world-famous Ballydoyle stables will cease to operate if a multi-million euro waste treatment plant is built beside it.
Mr O'Brien was speaking at the opening of a Bord Pleanala hearing into plans to build an animal-waste bio-energy plant, which would process 215,000 tonnes of waste containing potentially BSE-infected material.
"There's no doubt it would be the end of Ballydoyle," said Mr O'Brien. "This would be a disaster for us, the two things cannot work together.
"We train elite equine athletes at Ballydoyle so obviously air quality and surroundings are vital."
Mr O'Brien's wife Anne-Marie, who also attended yesterday's hearings in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, said she would "be appalled" at the thought of the plant getting the green light.
The proposal has met with stern opposition from big guns John Magnier, who owns Coolmore Stud, and also from many local residents.
Consultants for Green Organic Energy (GOE), the company behind the proposal at Castleblake, Rosegreen, Co Tipperary, opened yesterday's hearings, which are expected to end late next week.
South Tipperary County Council refused GOE permission to build the plant last August on environmental grounds.
Paul Barrett, project manager behind the plant, outlined GOE's plans to build both a bio-gas plant and a separate bio-diesel plant, including ancillary works on the site 15-hectare site.
He said the bio-gas plant would process 215,000-tonnes of by-product from the meat industry per year and would in turn contribute 15-megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
GOE is made up from three companies -- Dawn Meats, Bioverda -- a subsidiary of NTR (National Toll Roads) -- and Avglade, who between them control 30pc of all animal by-product produced in the State.
At present, 80pc of Irish produced animal by-product is exported for incineration.
Mr Barrett told the hearing that the plant would create "no odour issues" and that there would be no "process water discharge" to local water sources. He also stressed that the plant meets all required emission standards.
Dr Martin Hogan, an environmental and human health consultant said there would be no hazardous waste entering the plant.
He claimed the potential for human health impacts from the proposed facility would be "negligible".
GOE's Mr Barrett went on to claim that the plant would serve to "reduce Ireland's green-house gas emissions and produce a constant supply to the energy grid."
Witnesses for GOE are to continue to deliver evidence today with representations from Coolmore, Ballydoyle and local interests to follow.
Star trainer Aidan O'Brien remained unconvinced that the plant would prove harmless to the local environment and to the local horse-training industry.
"It would be a great disaster after the huge investments made in Ballydoyle and the equine industry in the area over the years. The two industries couldn't work together," he said.