Tuesday 29 January 2008

An Bord Pleanála urged to reject bio-energy plant application

SOUTH Tipperary County Council has urged An Bord Pleanála to reject the application of a company that wants to develop an animal by-products processing plant in a rural area close to horse training and breeding establishments.

Council officials yesterday defended their decision to turn down an application by Green Organics Energy (GOE) Ltd for permission to develop a bio-energy plant, which would use by-products from slaughterhouses, at a site in Castleblake, Rosegreen, halfway between Clonmel and Cashel.

Speaking at a Bord Pleanála hearing into GOE’s appeal council senior planner James O’Mahony said that the reports prepared by and for the council, along with the “public disquiet” as evidenced by close to 1,000 submissions and observations, meant that any decision other than to refuse permission would be “contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

Mr O’Mahony described as “ludicrous” a suggestion from GOE that the Castleblake location was suitable for an animal by-products processing plant because of the proximity of cattle.

He also called on the developers to unconditionally withdraw a claim that the council planners had not made an objective assessment but had started by deciding to refuse permission and then finding grounds to support that decision.

“The statement undermines the integrity of the planning authority,” he said.

According to Mr O’Mahony, it was “factually wrong” of GOE to argue that the Castleblake site was a suitable one because it had been the location of a rendering plant.

“The new operation is different in respect of the imported feedstocks and produces totally different outputs,” he said.

The plant would also be “totally different” in process, size and scale to the rendering plant, which closed in 2003, he said.

A number of local residents and businesspeople also gave evidence in support of the council’s refusal.

Pat Murphy, owner of the Cashel Palace Hotel, about 7km from the site of the proposed development, said that the smell from the rendering plant had created “a very bad impression” in Cashel. Raymond Davern, owner of a clothing shop in the town, said that there had been an “upturn in business” since the rendering plant’s closure.

However, he feared further problems if trucks carrying animal by-products started coming through Cashel again.

Farmer Michael Mulcahy, who lives 500m from the site said that road safety was a big issue in the area.

“I can’t imagine what it will be like if the amount of trucks increases,” he said.

Another farmer Kevin Mulcahy said that he had been shown a map marked with proposed earthworks and excavations on his land as part of a road improvement plan, but that he did not consent to these.

The cross-examination of some expert witnesses who gave evidence last week got under way yesterday evening and is expected to continue until at least Thursday. The hearing continues today.

Irish Examiner


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