€75m organic digester planned for North Cork

A SUBSIDIARY of Ireland’s largest private waste disposal company is planning to build a €75 million organic digester in North Cork, which will be capable of biodegrading 250,000 tonnes of waste annually.

Valeco Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenstar, is preparing to lodge a planning application with Cork County Council for a massive anaerobic digester at Ballard, near the village of Araglin. If the application is successful the company hopes to have the facility operating by 2008 and it will be designed to take organic waste from all over Munster.

Greenstar’s director of business development John Mullins said developing anaerobic digesters is an important part of the company’s bio-energy strategy.

He said the company will be able to create ‘green’ electricity from the decomposition and also produce solid fertiliser.

“The environmental benefits of anaerobic digestion are multiple, including reduced water pollution, lower greenhouse emissions, and reduced odours from agricultural slurries. The energy produced at the site will offset the firing of fossil fuels at other power facilities in the country,” Mr Mullins said.

He said Greenstar had picked the Ballard area because it was located centrally in Munster and near the main Cork-Dublin road.

Mr Mullins said that if given the green light to proceed with the project, approximately 30 jobs will be created on an 80-acre site. Anaerobic digestion is the biological process for the decomposition of organic waste in the absence of oxygen.

Food processing and other industries in Ireland generate substantial quantities of non-hazardous waste and sludge. In addition, 132 million wet tonnes of agricultural wastes, effluent and sludges are generated in Ireland annually and are a major cause of harmful greenhouse emissions.

An Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is being prepared to accompany the application to Cork County Council for full planning permission. The EIS will also be submitted to the

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of a licence application.

Last January the EPA published a discussion document on anaerobic digestion and advocated that it is a viable option in addressing national commitments in the areas of renewable energy and global warming.

A public information meeting for local residents will be held in The Firgrove Hotel, Mitchelstown on Friday, December 16, from noon to 3pm.

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