Saturday 24 March 2007

Planning board rejects Cork waste proposal

Campaigners in north Cork against a proposed anaerobic digester, designed to dispose of 250,000 tonnes of slurries and solid manures annually, have welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to refuse permission for the project.
Valley Residents Association in Araglin, 11km north of Fermoy, learned yesterday that the board had upheld Cork County Council's refusal to grant permission to biofuel company Bioverda, and its subsidiary, Valeco. The 17-hectare site at Ballard is owned by Michael Hyland of Barnahown, Araglin.
Bioverda appealed the refusal and An Bord Pleanála held an oral hearing in November.
Solicitor for the residents Joe Noonan said the proposal was completely inappropriate for the isolated rural area.
Mr Noonan said the site had already achieved international notoriety over the failure of the authorities to properly enforce planning conditions granted in 1998 for the collection of biosolids from agricultural and chemical industries at the site.
"In a landmark 2005 European Court judgment against Ireland, the court criticised the Irish authorities' inactivity in the face of local complaints about long-term illegal dumping at the site going back as far as 1990.
"In January, Cork County Council brought a successful prosecution under the Water Pollution Act against the owner who promised that he would present proposals to the council for the clean-up of the site," Mr Noonan added.
"With that history, the attempt by Valeco to build a mammoth waste-digester plant in this remote rural area - bigger than anything of the kind ever seen anywhere in the world, never mind in Ireland - was incomprehensible."
The Valeco proposal would have seen the construction of 20 tanks, approximately 23m high and 19m in diameter, as well as a 40m gas engine stack which the company said could produce 32 megawatts of electrical power.
Bioverda chief executive John Mullins told the oral hearing that in 2005, 885,000 tonnes of organic waste suitable for digestion was reported to the EPA which highlighted the need for a major anaerobic digester in the region.
However, local residents had argued that it would create noxious smells which would have detrimental impact, pointing to the proximity of the site to a local school and the impact it would have on children's wellbeing.
Mr Noonan said locals expected county council enforcement staff would now complete their task of ensuring a swift clean-up of the site.
A spokesman for Bioverda said they were reviewing the decision.
Barry Roche
© 2007 The Irish Times

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