Friday 25 January 2008

Lawyers for stables denounce plans for bioenergy facility

The legal team for John Magnier's Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle Stables has denounced plans for a bioenergy plant in south Tipperary as "fundamentally unsuitable" for the location and the "antithesis of good planning".

Barrister Donal O'Donnell told the second day of a Bord Pleanála hearing yesterday that a "tranquil, pristine, rural environment" close to "the greatest racing stables in the world" was "the last place on earth" where one would choose to build such a facility.

Mr O'Donnell accused Green Organics Energy Ltd, the company hoping to build the facility, of "planning opportunism" and said there was a "disturbing inconsistency and instability" about its proposals. He said it had not chosen the site in Rosegreen for its planning merits but because of its historical use for animal rendering.

The company wants to process animal byproducts from meat-processing factories and other biodegradable waste and create "green" electricity and biodiesel. Avglade/ National-By-Products, one of the companies behind the venture, owns the site and operated a rendering business there until the end of 2003.

Earlier, Rory Brady SC, for Green Organics Energy, called on a expert witnesses support the company's case. He introduced consultants from Germany who said the technology to be used in the Tipperary plant was fully compliant with EU legislation and was being used safely and effectively in many European countries.

Dr Udo Dinglreiter, from the Bavarian engineering company R. Scheuchl, said his company had installed the technology in a similar plant in Germany and that he was "not aware of any complaint of any citizen living close to the plant".

Moreover, an Irish veterinary expert said the proposed facility posed no threat to horses if it is managed properly. Dr Kevin Dodd, a former lecturer at UCD's veterinary college, told the hearing that his specialist area of interest is "the assessment of the impact of agri-industrial developments on animal health in the receiving environment".

He said horses in the area had been exposed to an adjacent rendering plant for many years without any negative health consequences.

Responding to concerns that leaks from the plant could contaminate water supplies and a local river, he said spreading cattle slurry on land was "much more likely to contaminate water courses".

He also addressed fears that have been expressed by Aidan O'Brien, the trainer at Ballydoyle, who said that racehorses were very sensitive to air quality.

Dr Dodd pointed out that "the greatest source of dust for horses arises from their own environment such as straw bedding, hay or the fabric of the stable building".

Paul Barrett, project manager at Green Organics Energy, urged the Government to support the bioenergy plant which he said was the type of facility which was required "if Ireland is to meet the ambitious renewable energy targets" set out by the European Commission.

Mr O'Donnell, however, accused Green Organics of an attempt to "wrap the application in the green safety blanket of Kyoto".

The Irish Times

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