Tuesday 19 August 2008

Advice sought to halt planning hearing

OPPONENTS OF a meat and bonemeal incinerator proposed for Co Meath are to seek legal advice on securing an injunction preventing Bord Pleanála from proceeding next week with an oral hearing into the development.

The hearing into objections to the plans by rendering company College Proteins to build an eight megawatt biomass incinerator and ash landfill at its existing plant in Nobber, Co Meath, is expected to take at least two weeks. It is being assessed by the board under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.

The company says two megawatts would be used for its own operations and the balance would be exported to the national electricity grid. The power available for distribution to the grid represented the electricity demand of 4,000 homes.

There is much local opposition to the incinerator. The campaign group says it has health and environmental concerns and needs more time to prepare its expert witnesses.

At yesterday's preliminary hearing the inspector was told by Christy O'Reilly, chairman of North East Against Incineration, that more time was needed.

He said this was illustrated by the number of documents which were brought to the hearing yesterday by An Bord Pleanála that the group had not seen. "Our experts need time to examine the documents", he said.

Asking the inspector to consider adjourning the hearing, the group said a number of people who had made valid submissions to the board were not notified about the hearing.

Mr O'Reilly said the decision not to postpone the hearing meant these people were being denied their statutory right.

The inspector was also told the notice informing people of yesterday's preliminary hearing, where observers had to attend to ensure they could make submissions at the hearing, was sent when a lot of families were on holidays and some did not know about it.

Local councillor Eugene Cassidy said while the planning board had written to seven local authorities advising them they could make submissions, this was done two weeks ago.

He said because no council meetings were held in August, no submissions could be ratified.

The inspector Pauline Fitzpatrick said the hearing would not be postponed and she referred to the Strategic Infrastructure Act which by law requires the board to make a decision within 18 weeks of the closing date for submissions.

Meath deputy Shane McEntee said he did not accept that.The board did not have its house in order and it was not the problem of the people of north Meath if this was the case.

Meanwhile, the executive of Meath County Council in its submission said it had no objection in principle to the proposed development. It added, however, that the hearing would be told that elected members to the council might be taking a different view.

The formal hearing gets under way in Navan next Tuesday unless delayed or blocked by legal action.

The Irish Times


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