Senator calls for Gortadroma gasification plan to be “put on hold”

Colm Ward

Reporter:

Colm Ward

Concerns: Senator James Heffernan
A Limerick-based senator has called for the proposed development of a gasification plant on the site of the Gortadroma Landfill to be “put on hold”.

A Limerick-based senator has called for the proposed development of a gasification plant on the site of the Gortadroma Landfill to be “put on hold”.

Independent senator James Heffernan said the plant, which converts waste to energy, is “not the type of investment that Limerick needs”.

His comments come ahead of a public meeting due to take place on Monday to discuss the plant. The meeting is being organised by an group calling itself Residents Against Gasification in our Environment Action Group.

This follows a meeting in Ballyhahill last Monday during which a number of local people also voiced concerns about the potential impact of the plant.

Sen Heffernan, who attended that meeting, described plans for a gasification plant in Gortadroma as an “insult to the people of the area”.

“The proposal to build a gasification plant here in west Limerick is an issue that not only affects the people in the immediate proximity of the landfill site but is an issue that concerns communities all along the estuary area, including those in Glin, Ballyhahill, Foynes, Shanagolden, Loghill and other places in the west of the county,” he said.

Describing the scale of the proposed development as “quite frightening”, he added: “It was quite clear to me that this project is not welcome by the communities in the area.

“We need to know exactly what the plans are, what type of waste will be processed, what amount of it. Is this plant going to cover the Munster area? Will it import waste material from other areas? These are legitimate questions and concerns.”

In March, Limerick City and County Council agreed to a proposal to lease 14 hectares on the former dump site to US energy company Cadence EnviroPower to build a €190m gasification plant.

However, the project will still have to go through the full planning process before it can go ahead.

Council engineer Gerry Doherty told this month’s meeting of the Adare Rathkeale municipal area that the lease had not yet been signed but that he expected this to happen shortly. Following that, he said, he intended to write out to all local residents to inform them of the status of the project.

However, Sen Heffernan believes people living in the area should have been consulted earlier. “I would have thought that a serious consultation process would have taken place with local people to find out their feeling on it is. It will take more than trips abroad to France and the USA to convince me,” he added.

Monday’s meeting will take place in Shanagolden Parish Hall at 8pm.

Letters to the Editor, page 18