Calls made to veto meat processing plant plans

Proposed  site layout plan for proposed meat plant, near Banagher

Proposed site layout plan for proposed meat plant, near Banagher

Karen O'Grady

Reporter:

Karen O'Grady

Email:

news@midlandtribune.ie


CALLS were made for Offaly County Council to veto plans for a planned €25 million meat processing plant, outside of Banagher as the proposed development would be “contrary to the Government's recent declaration of climate emergency and national environmental policies”.

The local planning authority instead should follow the precedent of an Bord Pleanala's refusal of planning for an extension of the life of West Offaly power station. This is the view outlined in a submission lodged to Offaly County Council on Banagher Chilling Ltd's application for planning permission for the development of a significant meat processing facility, proposed for a site 3.5km to the south-east of Banagher, at Boheradurrow and Meenwaun.

The submission, made by Des Kampff and Gwen Wordingham, argues the proposed development has the potential “to cause huge carbon dioxide emissions at a time of national and global climate crisis. To bring a new development such as that detailed in the above application, which carries a significant carbon footprint through its own operation and the connected industries, which would be required to support its activities (local and international transport and increasing industrialisation of agriculture), is untimely and unsustainable.”

Later the submission notes it was “regrettable there was not a public consultation organised by the applicants to inform locals and to enable wider debate on this proposed development: pre-planning consultations were restricted to a few select invites, rather than public comment. In July, many residents we contacted were unaware of the application's existence and considered that for so large a development, the complete lack of public consultation within the time-frame for submissions and comments was deplorable.”

“The combined emissions this development would create through the use of transport, livestock and feed production, processing, staff commutes, and air miles involved in the export of beef to China, are vast and unacceptable given current pressure to reduce emissions and create a carbon-neutral economy.”

However, the climate impact of the proposed facility is not the only concern outlined in the submission. There are a number of other “key issues of importance” detailed in the document pertaining to the site of the proposed abattoir and the processing factory. “The site of the proposed abattoir and processing factory is a 55 acre site located in pristine Irish countryside, rich in flora and fauna,” it points out.

Further on, the document notes the proposed site is “surrounded by bog woodland (as designated by the NPWS) and the locality is known to be a breeding area for several protected species including red squirrels, bats, hares, badgers, buzzards, long-earned owls, barn owls, foxes and pine marten....The L3010 road adjoining the front elevation of the site passes through the surrounding wood, which has been planted for biodiversity by Coillte.”

Later, the submission continues that “local residents remain unhappy as a result of issues arising from the nearby wind turbines installed at Meenwaun Wind Farm, less than 2km from the proposed site. The proximity of these turbines (some of the highest in the country, at 169 metres tip height) to the site has the potential to create problems regarding the circulation of any air pollution and bad odours from the proposed development. The existence of the wind farm and also the nursing home in such close proximity should preclude the use of the site for an industrial facility of this type and scale.”

“The roads in the vicinity of the intended development site are built on foundations of peat bog material. The roads are already subject to often severe subsidence problems, which have become more frequent in recent years due to increasingly extremely seasonal climate conditions. Considering the lack of public transport locally, this development could see up to an additional 110 cars per day (one per employee) as well as industrial traffic such as cattle transport and supply vehicles, using the roads in this area.”

The submission also details how “the application is devoid of any data (e.g. from surveys of local residents) to indicate a willingness amongst locals to work in such a facility or that it would have any effect on employment rates in the area – considering this, we can only conclude the applicants aim to bring in employees from further afield. This would have a minimal effect on the local economy as most employees would likely being commuting.”

Meanwhile, the local planning authority is expected to make a decision on this planning application on August 28 next while a group is currently being formed with the view of holding a public meeting to discuss this planning application; the date, time and location to follow shortly.

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