Council turns down €75m waste plan

PLANS to create Ireland’s first commercial anaerobic waste digester have been turned down by Cork County Council.

Residents who fought a campaign against the €75 million plant said they were delighted at the news, but prepared to fight a further challenge in the event that the company involved seeks to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Valeco, a subsidiary of waste disposal giant Greenstar, had planned to build the anaerobic waste digester on a controversial site at Ballard, Araglin.

The site in question possessed illegal waste lagoons which the European Court ordered closed 14 months ago.

These were operated by an entirely different company, which has since ceased trading.

Valeco, which announced its plans last December, said it was hoping to bio-degrade 250,000 tonnes of waste annually. The company said there were significant benefits to anaerobic digestion because it reduced water pollution and lowered greenhouse emissions. In addition Valeco claimed waste, including slurry, would be converted into electricity and fertiliser pellets.

Locals fought tooth and nail against the plan, claiming that the project was too large; that narrow roads wouldn’t be capable of handling large numbers of heavy trucks which would feed the plant, and that the area’s scenic beauty would be destroyed.

Cork County Council planners decided that the project was too large and would have a significant impact on the landscape. They also felt that Valeco hadn’t sought alternative sites.

Bill Carey, chairman of the local residents’ association, said the decision had given him “a feeling of mild elation”. But he warned that Valecon could mount a challenge.

“We are certainly prepared for a challenge and we are prepared to go to the courts if necessary. We will defend our heritage, that’s the least we owe the next generation,” Mr Carey said.

He added that the 30 or so lorries which would have visited the site each day would have caused mayhem on narrow local roads.

“Then there was the whole idea of imposing a facility of this magnitude on a scenic landscape,” he added.

Cllr Liam O’Doherty, who lives just a stone’s throw from Ballard, said he was delighted that planning officials had taken residents’ fears onboard.

“Without a doubt this project was too big for such a small rural area,” Mr O’Doherty said.

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