A PROPOSAL to build a €190m gassification plant at the former landfill site at Gortadroma and create 180 jobs took another step forward this week when councillors agreed to lease over 14 hectares to US company, Cadence Environpower.
The proposal, if it gets planning permission and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licence, could generate rental income of €4m a year for LimericK City and County Council over the next 30 years.
The proposal, along with a proposal by CPL to develop a smokeless fuel manufacturing plant in Foynes, could pave the way to West Limerick becoming a real hub for eco-friendly energy.
Last year, following the closure of Gortadroma to commercial waste, the council sought applications for suitable projects on the site. There were three expressions of interest, one of which was a wind-farm but Cadence Environpower (CEP) were the successful bidders with their proposal to develop a plan to convert waste to gas.
Proposing the leasing of the land to CEP, Sinn Fein’s Cllr Ciara McMahon said: “140 jobs is nothing to be running away from.” But she was anxious also to dispel the misconception that the proposed plant was an incinerator. Ms McMahon and a number of other local councillors, local residents and officials visited France last week to visit a gassification plant there. “I was very impressed with what I saw,” she said. “Everything was answered to a high degree.” There were a lot of issues yet to be dealt, she addedm including environment, traffic, pollution and so on. “But I am happy to let it go to the next level.”
Cllr Richard O’Donoghue was equally impressed with the plant he visited and emphasised how silent it was but added that the one proposed for Gortadroma would be far superior. Once they met planning and EPA conditions, and above all, “once they satisfy the residents”, he was happy to endorse it. Backing the proposal, Cllr Stephen Keary pointed out it would also help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Providing energy to 50-60,000 homes was quite significant, he said.
Cllr Emmett O’Brien said the district councillors had put a lot of work into researching the project, which would be a big employer in the area, not including any other businesses that might be attracted to the area as a result.
“People in close vicinity to Gortadrom have put up with a lot of hardhip for the over 25 years,” Cllr John Sheahan commented. But Cllr Cian Prendiville objected that councillors outside the Adare Rathkeale district had not been briefed on the proposal and he argued for a postponement for a few weeks to allow that to happen. He also argued that some of the new technological energy projects had been tried and rejected.
“You will finds lots of people who are against new technology,” Cllr Bill O’Donnell replied. “This is merely at a very premlinary stage.” And he accused Cllr Prendiville of “trying to crack a nut with a hammer.”
Mayor Kevin Sheahan interjected to say Cllr Prendiville was only trying to get his name in the papaper. The amendment in favour of a postponement received only three votes and the motion to lease the land was agreed.