Thursday, 23 October 2008

Shannon explosives plant hearing goes ahead

A SENIOR official with the Department of Justice said yesterday that no information had been withheld on security grounds in relation to a planning application for a €10 million explosives plant on the Shannon estuary.

The senior government inspector of explosives, JK Coates, was responding to a question from planning inspector Conor McGrath on the second day of the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into a proposal by Shannon Explosives Ltd to build an explosives plant at Cahercon, Kildysart.

The hearing yesterday proceeded in the absence of third-party objectors to the plan who withdrew on the first day in relation to a procedural issue, telling the hearing that they would be going to the High Court yesterday to put a stay on the proceedings and seek a determination on the procedural issue.

However, the hearing yesterday continued uninterrupted as experts advanced the case for Shannon Explosives on all aspects of the development.

On behalf of the applicant, planning consultant Patricia Slowey said 45 people would be employed at the facility against the background of a 40 per cent increase in numbers on the live register in the local area between September 2007 and September 2008.

Outlining the need for the development, Ms Slowey said: “There is only one manufacturing plant of this nature in Ireland, located in Enfield, Co Meath. The proposed development at Cahercon constitutes an important commercial venture for this area of west Clare.

“It will provide for the manufacture of an important product. This facility will constitute an alternative and competitive supply of explosives to the Irish explosives market as well as export market.”

Counsel for Shannon Explosives Ltd, Desmond Keane SC, said the proposal was “a very exceptional development”, stating that alternatives were considered, while the managing director of Shannon Explosives Ltd, Bob Morhard, said that Cahercon pier would be used mainly for the export of explosives.

In response to a question from Mr McGrath on authorised developments within the proposed development site, county solicitor John Shaw said that submissions had been received by Clare County Council from third parties that works had taken place, but the council had deemed that they be exempt development.

Senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority Patrick Conneely said in a submission that the authority did not advise against the granting of planning permission for the explosives plant in the context of major accident hazards.

The Irish Times

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