State’s first bio-energy waste plant turned down

AN Bord Pleanála has turned down a controversial plan to build Ireland’s first anaerobic waste digester, much to the delight of a small community in Co Cork.

Valeco Ltd, a subsidiary of Bioverda, had planned to construct the €70 million facility on a 17-acre site at Ballard, near Araglin, but ran up against stiff opposition from locals who were concerned that it was less than 500 yards from a national school and on roads which were unsuitable for heavy traffic.

The company proposed to treat non-hazardous organic wastes and turn them into ‘green’ electricity. In its submission, it said that around 250,000 tonnes of waste would be processed at the site each year.

The planning appeals board confirmed yesterday that it had refused the company permission, primarily because it didn’t think the site earmarked was suitable for such a venture.

In its report, the board of An Bord Pleanála said “having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed development, to the type and quantity of wastes proposed [and] transportation movements... it is considered that the facility would give rise to unsustainable transportation movements on a substandard local road network”.

Furthermore, they pointed out that the site is located in a prominent position near Kilworth, an area of scenic and natural amenity value.

Paul Neligan, assistant chairman of The Valley Residents’ Organisation, which fought the plan, was “ecstatic” with the news.

“We were a small bit worried when An Bord Pleanála kept putting back the decision. But we spoke to several members of the community once we heard the news and they were absolutely delighted,” Mr Neligan said.

He pointed out that he had two children attending Araglin National School, just 500 yards from the site.

“It was so close that you could hear them laughing in the playground.”

Mr Neligan said there was merit to Valeco’s plans, but the site and adjoining roads were unsuitable.

Valeco said it was disappointed by the decision. A spokesman said the project offered a significant opportunity to meet the main objectives of the White Paper on energy.

“The project offers a real opportunity for Ireland to become self-sufficient in terms of management of organic waste streams.”

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