Tuesday 6 March 2007

Objections flood in to biofuel processing plant

MORE than 200 objections have been lodged to plans for the construction of a processing plant for animal waste close to the world-famous Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle Stables in Co Tipperary.
Coolmore owner, John Magnier, and Ballydoyle trainer, Aidan O’Brien, are among the chief opponents of the plan, which has upset many other landowners and people living near the proposed site at Castleblake, Rosegreen in the south of the county.
The deadline for lodging objections passed on Friday evening and staff at the planning office in South Tipperary County Council were still sorting the submissions yesterday in preparation for making them available for online public inspection but a staff member put the estimated number at well over 200 and possibly as many as 300.
Aidan O’Brien previously fought a lengthy battle against plans for an animal waste incinerator close to his stables. Those plans, by the owners of the now disused National By-Products rendering plant at Castleblake, were eventually dropped but the renowned trainer has warned any development that might compromise the air quality in the area could force Ballydoyle to close.
The new project is proposed by a consortium calling themselves Green Organics Energy Ltd which includes the local business family behind National By-Products and also Bioverda — a subsidiary of National Toll Roads — and Dawn Meats.
It would use the old rendering plant site to build facilities to process several hundred thousand tonnes of waste meat and bone meal, some rendered on site and some imported from around the country, and turn it into biogas and biodiesel.
The planning application lodged with South Tipperary County Council claims 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel will be produced each year, while the biogas facility will generate up to 15 megawatts of electricity — enough to power about 10,000 homes.
The application contains an environmental impact statement and stresses that the hi-tech plant will operate to the highest international standards, with environmental protections and safety precautions built in.
Local objectors, however, are concerned about smells and emissions from the day-to-day operation of the plant, and the potential for environmental damage in the event of an accident either at the plant or involving any of the trucks which would be transporting carcasses to it.
Planning officials aim to make a decision on the project by March 22 but it could take longer because of the volume of objections to be considered and the possibility that additional information will be required from the consortium.
It is likely the case will end up as an appeal before An Bord Pleanála regardless of which side wins the initial round of the planning battle with the local authority.
Caroline O’Doherty
© Irish Examiner

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