Sunday 27 January 2008

Residents concerned over proposed bio-energy plant

RESIDENTS living close to the site of a proposed bio-energy plant in south Tipperary yesterday voiced concerns about the development of a large-scale plant dealing with animal by-products in their locality.

However, the company behind the planned project last night moved to assure locals about the safety of the proposal, pointing to investment “in investigating the safety and efficiency of the proposed process”.

According to consortium Green Organics Energy (GOE) Ltd, “independent and internationally-renowned engineering experts have endorsed the process and recognised the potential for this facility to make a real and significant contribution to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels”.

A number of people from the area around the site of the planned processing facility at Castleblake, Rosegreen — between Clonmel and Cashel — spoke of the smell which emanated from the area when a rendering plant was in operation until 2003.

At a hearing held by An Bord Pleanála, residents said they feared more biological problems if the GOE consortium got the go-ahead for a plant which would process 250,000 tonnes of slaughterhouse by-products each year.

South Tipperary for Clean Industry spokesperson Dr Douglas Butler said the proposal was “derisory” and “extraordinarily insulting” to the people.

He raised the prospect of “bio-security problems” if the anaerobic digestion process planned by GOE for the plant broke down at any point.

Chairman of the Rosegreen Development Association Hugh O’Neill said the smell from the former rendering plant was “pervasive and offensive”.

Local resident Rena Maher said she lived in Rosegreen since 1969, and the air was clean only since the plant formerly operated by National By-Products closed.

“For us it was not fresh air we took in for the last 35 years but stinking smelly air of the factory in Castleblake,” she said. She spoke of when her children were young, being unable to leave prams outside because of the smell from the plant, while clothes outside to dry “would stink from the smell”.

GOE said last night the European Food Safety Authority “have declared this process as proven, safe and effective for the disposal of animal by-products”. The company said the management and disposal of animal by-products is today “a highly regulated area” and GOE would be held “to the highest standards in the construction and operation of this facility”, if given planning permission.

Local TDs Dr Martin Mansergh, Tom Hayes and Michael Lowry gave evidence against the proposed project at the hearing.

Irish Examiner

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