Group insists plant pay carbon energy tax

EUROPE’S largest aluminium plant must follow proposed new environmental rules, a farmers’ group warned yesterday.

Aughinish Alumina in Askeaton, Co Limerick, has claimed it will be threatened by the Government’s carbon energy tax.

The company’s public affairs manager Pat Lynch said the plant’s future will be in doubt if the Government strictly enforces the tax. More than 700 people are employed at the Co Limerick facility.

But the Askeaton-based Cappagh Farmers Support Group (CFSG) has called on the Government to introduce the taxes immediately.

“Aughinish will have to follow the rules the same as everybody else and I don’t think that any exceptions can be made,” CFSG spokesperson Pat Geoghegan said.

“These are international guidelines that will improve the environment, so they can’t be ignored,” he said.

The CFSG also wants the Government to launch a new environmental investigation following a number of health problems in the Askeaton area.

A €5.2 million Environmental Protection Agency-led report into animal deaths and human health difficulties in Askeaton found the problems were not linked to industrial pollution.

Aughinish’s warning comes ahead of the Government’s plan to introduce carbon taxes next year.

Industry claims these taxes will increase fuel and transport costs and make companies such as Aughinish uncompetitive.

Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy has published a consultation paper that proposes a 15 million tonne reduction in carbon dioxide levels by 2012.

Mr Lynch said the huge Aughinish Alumina plant on the Shannon Estuary contributes €90m to the economy annually.

The company also warned that Government inflexibility will threaten a €200m investment in the Limerick plant.

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